In January 2015, the FCC wrote to the four major U.S. carriers asking them to “publicly indicate their status regarding consent for each Consumer Signal Booster” that has passed the FCC’s new certification process. Sixty-two amplifier systems in total were listed as approved, and carriers were asked to review whether those boosters are safe for use on their networks.
In early March, all four carriers responded to the FCC’s request, and those letters have now been posted to the FCC’s website. The carriers gave blanket consent for the use of each of the boosters approved by the FCC.
What this means for consumers
For consumers, carrier consent means that you’re free and clear to purchase and use any of FCC approved booster and use it with all four major US cell carriers, without needing to request carrier consent for that particular model.
The Signal Booster ruling made by the FCC in 2013 requires that consumers register their devices with their wireless carrier, and get consent for the particular model they are using. With carriers consenting to the use of every booster certified under the new rules, consumers now only need to register their devices, and no longer need to seek approval.
A side-note on the registration process: even though boosters amplify signal for every carrier, approval and registration is only required with the specific carriers that the booster is used with. The reason for this is that carriers are typically only concerned about booster amplification of uplink signals—downlink signals are generally very weak (typically around -90dBm pre-amplification), whereas uplink signals (i.e. those sent from a user’s device to the tower) are typically much stronger (up to -40dBm pre-amplification). Prior to the FCC’s new rules, excessive uplink amplification occasionally caused noise issues on the tower side. Newer models are more closely regulated, and include auto-shutoff and gain control mechanisms to prevent excessive uplink amplification.
Will carriers begin selling boosters?
They already have. T-Mobile began selling Cel-Fi signal boosters before the new FCC order even went into place. But it remains to be seen whether more carriers will offer boosters directly to consumers.
Since boosters typically amplify signals for every carrier, carriers typically shy away from them—they don’t want to distribute devices that can easily be used to boost signals on other carrier’s networks as well as their own.
Now that these devices are pre-approved, the only step required by the FCC after purchasing is to register with carriers. Each carrier has their own site where they allow registration through a simple web form, for example, here are Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile, and AT&T‘s.
At RepeaterStore, we stock 53 of the 62 pre-approved signal booster devices. A complete list, including those that we don’t carry, is available here.