I wanted to start a new discussion area to cover the Feb 20th 2013 FCC ruling on signal boosters.
Please share any concerns, comments or general opinions on the issue.
What strikes me as key is that this new regulation does not impact the home/personal use 802.11 WiFi spectrum. It only applies to cell phone boosters that work with spectrum owned by the wireless service providers. I do not get the impression that boosters will be taken away or locked down for special use only, quite the opposite. This new FCC regulation ensures that all boosters are built and designed to certain standards to ensure equal play among all parties.
Carriers serving the vast majority of American consumers have consented to allowing signal boosters on their networks if those boosters met the new technical standards.
...this order which, among other things, sets forth rules for the authorized operation of consumer signal boosters and requires that consumer and industrial boosters are clearly labeled. ...I would like to acknowledge and thank the wireless industry and signal booster manufacturers for coming together with a joint proposal for technical standards that will result in affordable and reliable consumer signal boosters that are unlikely to cause interference. ...The largest wireless providers, however, have indicated that they will consent to the use of FCC-certified signal boosters meeting the new technical standard on their networks
Some other good tidbits.
First, the carrier-consent requirement should be implemented in a consumer-friendly manner. Some carriers have signaled that they will give blanket consent to all boosters that comply with our rules. Others may provide consent on a model-by-model basis. Either of these options should work well. On the other hand, I do not expect carriers to require customers purchasing boosters to submit consent requests that would be evaluated on an individualized basis. Such a process would be inefficient for carriers and unnecessarily burdensome for consumers.
So we as consumer may end up having problems with this part of the deal. Instead of purchasing boosters that cover multiple spectrums, like many of them do today, we will likely have to buy specific ones that have been pre-approved by the wireless service provider. Likewise I would suppose that if you had a "non" approved booster they would somehow find you and ask you to purchase a supported one that meets the new standards.
More from FCC-13-21A6:
On the other hand, we cannot expect that every American who currently uses a booster will know that he must register that booster and obtain his carrier’s consent. Indeed, I very much doubt that most individuals will learn about these requirements in the foreseeable future. For some reason unbeknownst to me, most Americans just don’t watch FCC open meetings or read FCC orders.
The reason the ruling does not, and cannot, apply to 802.11 WiFi is that these 2.4 and 5 GHz spectra are unlicensed. By definition this means the FCC can't prohibit use to an arbitrary class of citizens (e.g. private persons vs cell providers). The FCC would have to change WiFi frequencies from unlicensed to licensed. Even the FCC can't do that unilaterally.
Cellular specta, however, are licensed. The advent of so-called micro-cell repeaters and signal boosters skirted the licensing rules, and the makers of these devices failed to deliver reliable, interference-free products. When these crappo devices interfered, they interfered catastrophically.
For two years I was a victim of this kind of cellular techno-rape. A neighbor bought one of these slipshod boosters and the cellphones of my entered family immediately became useless at home. I'm an RF network engineer, and with a spectrum analyzer I was able to prove the neighbor's gear was blocking my cellular access. I appealed to my neighbor, the FCC, the cellular carrier, and the repeater manufacturer. They all ignored me, saying its just tough for me.
The neighbor moved, fortunately, and now I have cellular access again.
This new FCC move is a sensible one, a response to numerous reports of interference by these shoddy, low-budget devices designed by get-rich-quick con artists rather than competent engineers.
This, at least, levels the playing field.
I believe I would have filed a small claims in small claims court to be reimbursed for cellular fees "stolen" by the neighbor with proof submitted to the magistrate.
That is how I read the regulation too. I see this regulation as the standardization of equiptment that should have been standardized in the first place. Everything else dealing with licensed spectrum is, boosters and repeaters should not be an exception.
What will be interesting for us as consumers will be how the ISP's choose to classify and approve larger signal boosters. The consumer grade repeaters will likely fly under the radar and not cause anyone problems. I dont know how the ISP or FCC will find these individuals in the first place. Perhaps they will wait for someone to complain and then hire a representative to serve the offender a notification. The regulation doesnt really describe that process which makes me think they dont have a good solution for it.
However for those of use who own "industrial" grade repeaters we may have a few extra hoops to jump through. Fines for industrial boosters are much more serious to the tune of $100,000 for a violation. Seems to me that these are the devices that ISP's are really targeting and are more likely to cause interferance problems than personal/consumer boosters. Boosters benefit all parties so I wouldnt think the ISP's will target the largers boosters out of existance, maybe just the bad ones.