FCC Mulls Over Mobile Phone Signal Booster Approval

Oh, here comes controversy. The FCC has preliminarily approved the use of mobile phone signal boosters, but let’s say it’s only put one foot in the water. A 55-page notice of proposed rulemaking [PDF] has been put online that details what the FCC has in mind. The idea is to give consumers a limited ability to boost their mobile signal in times of need. Wireless providers, like AT&T, are none too pleased.

AT&T says the use of signal boosters could be nothing less than dangerous. It cites one incident off the coast of Florida where a a signal booster was used that led to 21 hours of interrupted service and nearly 8,000 dropped calls. (Insert your own AT&T-dropped-call joke here.) Police in Massachusetts have also had run-ins with signal boosters in the past, run-in that led to the interruption of their radio service. Signal boosters can also interfere with mobile 911 location services. Kinda dangerous.

AT&T wants the signal boosters to be pretty limited, if it has to be passed at all. They should never be activated in areas with high signal strength, and should only be used where there’s terribly low signal strength; they should be used to take the signal from 10 to 11, say, but from 2 to 7.

The FCC hasn’t given its final stamp of approval on the plan yet, and there’s a 45-day window where people can make their thoughts known.