FCC considers regulating cell phone signal boosters

The public comment period ends Friday for a proposed FCC rule regulating, and possibly banning, cell phone signal boosters because they may interfere with cell site operation.

Signal boosters are devices that sit in cars or in buildings and improve cell phone reception in areas where it is weak, such as in office building canyons in large cities. The CTIA cellular industry association argues that the unlicensed devices can cause interference with licensed cell sites.

“When properly installed, these devices … can help consumers, wireless service providers, and public safety first responders by expanding the area of reliable service,” an FCC document explains. “However, improper installation and use of these devices can interfere with network operations.”

Wilson Electronics, a maker of such signal boosters, asked the FCC to “explore the best methods of resolving interference issues without resorting to regulations that unnecessarily inhibit the sale and installation of signal boosters.”

The public comment period ends Feb. 5 and replies to comments can be filed through Feb. 22.