FCC adopts R&O on signal boosters

The FCC adopted a Report and Order Feb. 20, creating new rules governing signal boosters that amplify signals between wireless devices and wireless networks, which will expand the reach of wireless consumers.

The new rules, which go into effect March 1, 2014, require manufacturers of the boosters to include safeguards that protect wireless networks. Verizon, AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile, as well as many rural and regional carriers, have agreed to the use of boosters on their networks, as long as those boosters meet the technical specifications outlined in the order.

According to the FCC, eliminating uncertainty among consumers and the wireless industry over use and operation of the signal boosters will lead to greater investment in the technology.

The order covers two separate signal booster classes — consumer and industrial —each with its own regulatory requirements. Consumer signal boosters must meet Network Protection Standard technical specifications. They are authorized under provider licenses subject to provider consent.

Consumers will be required to register their signal booster with their provider prior to use. Consumer boosters can be used on most mainstream wireless bands: cellular, PCS, AWS-1, 700MHz and ESMR (after rebanding).

The order also details rules for industrial signal boosters designed to cover stadiums, airports, tunnels and other large areas. Industrial signal boosters will continue to fall under the existing authorization process, and must be installed and operated in coordination with licensees.

The FCC is offering more information on the proceeding on its website.