The wireless industry’s acceptance of cell signal boosters gained momentum this week as AT&T announced a deal with Nextivity authorizing the use of its Cel-Fi Smart Signal Booster for use across AT&T Mobility’s 2G and HSPA-based 3G networks. The carrier has also received authorization for the use of its boosters by T-Mobile US.
Nextivity CEO Werner Sievers spoke with RCR Wireless News regarding the deal with AT&T as well as moves to further integrate cell booster technology into the market.
The Cel-Fi device is targeted at small- and medium-sized businesses, or for use in multi-level homes where current cellular coverage may be lacking. Customers can pick up the device directly from Nextivity for $575, with deployment described as “plug-and-play.” Sievers noted that the company was also working on a model compatible with LTE networks, claiming one should be commercial ready later this year.
Cel-Fi noted that its booster solution relies on its “intelligent, self-organizing algorithms” in order to ensure that there is no interference with a carrier’s network deployment and is in full compliance with recently instituted government regulations.
The Federal Communications Commission earlier this year introduced new rules regulating the booster space noting that beginning March 1, 2014, consumer signal boosters sold in the United States will have to comply with the adopted technical specifications. The order also received support from AT&T, Verizon, Sprint Nextel and T-Mobile USA.
The wireless industry had previously looked wearily at the signal booster space, concerned that unregulated boosting of spectrum signals could cause interference to their precisely engineered network deployments. In 2007, wireless trade association CTIA petitioned the FCC for a ruling that would prohibit wireless customers from using such devices.
In 2011, the FCC moved forward with a notice of proposed rulemaking on the issue. AT&T got behind the latest proposal, but warned that steps needed to be made to ensure appropriate use.
“AT&T is pleased that the FCC has adopted technical standards designed to protect our customers from interference caused by signal boosters while allowing well-designed boosters to remain in the marketplace,” noted AT&T on its policy blog. “For these standards to be most effective, however, it is important that they are coupled with appropriate enforcement and consumer outreach.”
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