How Updates to FCC Part 20 Impact Cell Signal Booster Usage
Over the past two decades, mobile devices have saturated the market, increasing the need for consistent and quality access to cellular data. Although there has been an increase in both, there are fringe customers who still experience consistent issues, such as total loss of service, poor data upload and download speeds, and dropped calls. In such cases, cell signal boosters are used to fill these connectivity gaps, and as of 2017, the Federal Communications Commission lifted some restrictions on boosters, thereby eliminating constraints on approvals and usage.
What is a Cell Signal Booster?
The strength of your mobile signal is dependent on how close you are to a cell tower, but service can also be impacted by other issues even when you’re in close proximity. When it comes to poor service, most people think of rural areas where towers are few, but keep in mind that poor connectivity can also happen in urban areas. If you’re in a building, construction materials including metal or concrete, and even LEED-certified windows can hamper mobile signal no matter how close you are to the tower.
In these cases, customers will add a cell signal booster, which takes an existing, strong outdoor signal and amplifies it within an indoor space. This makes the cell signal stronger and greatly reduces the connectivity gap to improve your overall service and experience. This “boost” allows customers to maintain productivity and connect to 911 services without the risk of losing connection.
The FCC regulates the use of cell signal boosters to ensure wireless networks aren’t impacted, and in 2017, it removed sections 20.7 and 20.9 from the code. In doing so, the following revisions were applied:
- Removed list of services or subservices that were previously classified as “mobile services” and “commercial mobile radio services” (CMRS); and
- Added an assumption that some services are private mobile radio services (PMRS), along with a rebuttal process to this presumption.
These edits come with several benefits for all users of cell signal boosters. Specifically:
- Increased Flexibility for Frequency Bands: Under the old regulation, boosters using specific frequencies were automatically classified as CMRS unless the customer could prove it was for private use. This assumption led to an increase in the number of licensees accessing commercial frequencies and, in response, the FCC to open new frequency bands designed for commercial or flexible use.
With the removal of Section 20.9, the Commission has eliminated this assumption, giving licensees more control over whether their booster is classified as private or commercial. In addition, classification will be determined by how the equipment will be used rather than on which frequency it operates.
- Reduction on Required Waivers: Services listed under sections 20.7 and 20.9 included VHF and UHF paging, devices often used by governmental licensees. Under previous regulation, these groups needed a waiver to use these services on CMRS frequencies for internal use. Removing this section eliminates waivers for all users, from government agencies to commercial entities.
Boost Your Cell Coverage
Before you head out and purchase a cell signal booster, here are some things to consider:
- Compliance: As required under current regulations, all cell signal boosters must meet FCC guidelines, so they don’t interfere with cellular networks. If your booster is out of compliance, you run the risk of being notified to shut it down.
- Frequency Band: The booster should also operate on the same frequency band as your mobile device. If you have multiple devices on different carriers, you’ll need to cross-check all of them to ensure they can work with a single booster. Another option is to look for a universal booster or one that is labeled “Works with all North American carriers.”
Whether you’re looking to improve mobile connectivity in your home, small office, or commercial building, WilsonPro carries boosters that are both FCC compliant and compatible with all mobile networks.
WilsonPro cell signal boosters use a passive distributed antenna system (passive DAS). Passive DAS offers a non-invasive booster solution, which captures existing cellular signal from nearby cell towers via donor antennas and routes the signal to a cellular booster where it is amplified. That signal is redistributed throughout the area via smaller broadcast antennas, increasing cell signal strength by as much as 32 times.
If you’re ready to improve your cell signal, our team of experts are available to assist you throughout the entire process, from purchase to on-site installation. Contact us today to get started!