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CTIA, Verizon, U.S. Cellular File Against Signal Boosters

Fri, 02/05/2010 - 7:25am
Maisie Ramsay

CTIA, Verizon Wireless and U.S. Cellular have come out against Wilson Electronics' petition to raise standards for cell signal boosters. In comments filed with the FCC, both Verizon and U.S. Cellular said the devices have repeatedly caused network interference – even when the boosters are made to the standards Wilson has petitions for in its FCC filing.

Wilson argues for incorporating new standards for oscillation (feedback) detection and auto-shut down; proximity detection and auto-shut down; and bi-directional signal amplification. The company argues that these technologies prevent network interference from being a problem.

Verizon and U.S. Cellular disagree with Wilson's contention on the basis that boosters with those technologies have caused interference on their respective networks.

"The features Wilson touts as means of preventing interference do not reliably work," said Verizon in comments filed with the FCC.

U.S. Cellular echoed Verizon's comments, saying: "Contrary to the representations of Wilson Electronics, FCC 'certification' of boosters in not a sufficient safeguard against the interference problems referred to above... This is because both proper installation of individual boosters and limiting their number in a given area are critical to minimizing interference, and both of those prerequisites require the involvement of the wireless licensee at the installation stage of the process."

Verizon, U.S. Cellular and CTIA asked the FCC to affirm that an FCC license or licensee consent is required to operate a signal booster; and the sale and marketing of such devices to unauthorized parties is illegal. Precedent for the companies' request exists under Section 301 of the Communications Act.

"The problem of unlawful boosters threatens the network development of every wireless carrier," said U.S. Cellular in its comments. "It is vital that the FCC act to ban the installation of wireless boosters without carrier consent, either through a declaratory ruling or by means of an expedited rule making."

Wilson Electronics' petition to raise standards for cell signal boosters has proved popular with rural residents and the National Transportation Safety Board, which depend on the devices to get cellular service in rural and remote areas underserved by carriers.

The deadline for the first round of comments is today. Comments on the comments filed today are due Feb. 22. The FCC has so far received 500 comments on the petition. The FCC declined previous requests for comment on Wilson's petition.

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