On March 22nd the FCC has taken the first steps in reducing regulatory oversight on signal boosters. These changes are not immediate, however, once they have been put in place they will change the landscape of signal booster use drastically.
You can read the complete decision and subsequent announcement on their site, here.
A Summary of The Changes
The FCC’s decision comes in two parts.
First is the Report and Order. In the Report and Order, the FCC has made one change, specifically to non-wideband (carrier specific) signal boosters. They have changed the language of the restrictions by removing the “personal use” restriction on these carrier specific boosters. This change is effective immediately.
Secondly is the Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking. This section asks for comments for future changes to signal booster regulation. They are seeking feedback on the following topics:
- The removal of restrictions to the embedding of signal boosters into vehicles
- The potential removal of the “personal use” restriction for wideband boosters
- The potential authorization of non-subscribers to operate commercial grade boosters
- The potential addition of three new bands to be boosted by signal boosters (700 MHz, 850 MHz, 1900 MHz and AWS bands)
The Reasoning Behind This Announcement
The last time the FCC changed the way it regulated cell phone signal boosters was in 2013. At the time they divided signal boosters into two categories, consumer and industrial boosters.
Consumer boosters were then further divided into two more subcategories, carrier-specific and wideband. As their names suggest carrier specific boosters only amplify the signal for one specific carrier while wideband boosters have the capability to boost the signal of all carriers.
Industrial boosters require the carrier permission to operate as they are powerful enough to potentially interfere with their networks.
The aspect from the 2013 decision that is under the most scrutiny now is the “personal use” restriction. The addition of this language was last minute and has had lasting impacts on the industry. One of these impacts is that many manufacturers have been left confused due to the vagueness and ambiguity in the statement. This ambiguity has led to minimal changes in hardware design but has left many in the industry hesitant to jump into the Industrial Booster market headlong.
HiBoost’s Position on These Changes
HiBoost welcomes these changes and agrees with them wholeheartedly. While we already have signal boosters for the Industrial sector the changes to the ambiguity will open up more room for innovation and improvement in the area and we believe that both the industry and our customers will benefit.
As our CEO Yanwei Wang stated, “HiBoost is pleased with the easing of these vague and restrictive regulations. We look forward to increasing our ability to better serve our customers by solving cellular signal problems.”
The Proposed Rules Change is where the bulk of future changes stand to come from pending the comments from industry participators and from consumers. We will provide a quick breakdown of the potential improvements to signal boosters that can be made from these proposals.
- The Addition of Extra Bands – This is perhaps the most important proposed change. Boosters will need extra bands to stay important to consumers. This will become increasingly important in the near future when 5G rolls out.
- Boosters Built Into Vehicles – This is a fantastic opportunity for consumers, car producers, and members of the signal booster industry. Especially as we begin to rely more and more on the electronics within our cars and potentially even autonomous cars it will be essential that they stay connected via radio frequencies. Signal boosters in cars will not only help them stay connected but also increase data transmission speed.
- The Removal of the Personal Use Restriction – Perhaps the most popular change among members of the industry and our customers. The removal of this language will help all involved and would make almost no material changes. In short, how is the usage of an industrial booster different when used personally or for an enterprise? Most agree that there is no clear distinction.
- The Authorization of Non-Subscribers to Use Commercial Signal Boosters – Currently, signal boosters are required to not only be registered with your carrier but you must also have a subscription to them as well to ensure that it will not interfere with their or any of their competitor’s networks. The proposed relaxations would allow consumers that do not have subscriptions to a particular carrier to use a signal booster without one. This proposal is in line with the general consensus as there have been no complaints by either a carrier or user about a signal booster interfering with a network.
To read more about HiBoost’s position on these changes you can read our full comment to the FCC here.