Are cell phone signal boosters illegal or legal in USA & Canada?

Posted by on January 12, 2016

Let us debunk the myths surrounding legality of cell phone signal boosters!

Are signal boosters legal? Or can they get you in trouble?

All FCC certified cell phone signal boosters we carry are perfectly legal to use in United States. For Canada, all IC (Industry Certified) cell phone boosters are perfectly legal to use in Canada. If not certified, a cell phone signal booster may not work as required and may damage the Carriers networks when they don't stop if oscillation occurs. This is the reason why some uncertified signal boosters in the market are illegal.

Owning a cell phone booster is a great way in which a consumer can boost a signal to their device and eliminate dropped calls. Because of the technology used to boost the cell phone signal, there have been some concerns in the legality of using such products. In most cases, the cell phone signal booster is legal to own and operate. However, owners should note that there are a few considerations that should be taken into account prior to the purchasing and using a cell phone signal booster.

Signal Boosters must be registered to be used legally

Because cell phone signal boosters use the signals from service provides and therefore have the potential to cause discrepancies on their networks, the FCC has issued guidelines for how access and usage of signal boosters must be conducted. Primarily, the user must register the product with their wireless service provider. According to the FCC:

"Consumers will soon be required to register signal boosters with their wireless providers. Providers must activate their registration system on or before March 1, 2014 and will notify subscribers at least 90 days before registration is required." - FCC Consumer Guide

It is predictable that the wireless service providers would prefer that a cell phone signal booster be a product that they provide. Yet, it is not required that you use that wireless service's product as long as the prospective signal is not causing interference and is registered. The below links will guide you to the most common service provider sites to register:

Verizon

AT&T

T-Mobile

US Cellular

Metro PCS

Sprint

Those who use an MVNO or a pre-paid phone or other such cellphone will need to call their respective service provider to find out which network is dominantly used by that prepaid provided (as many utilize the services of a "parent" network) so that registration of the booster can be conducted.

Cell Phone Signal boosters must not interfere with the existing networks interface

The major catch to owning a cell phone signal booster is getting a device that does not interfere with the networks interface. The FCC makes is clear that:

"At this time, the FCC likely will not pursue enforcement against current or prospective signal booster users unless it involves an instance of unresolved interference. If a wireless licensee or the FCC asks you to turn off your signal booster because it is causing interference to a wireless network, however, you must turn off your booster and leave it off until the interference problem can be resolved."

Where this may appear to be the proverbial golden ticket to obtain a cell phone booster, note that the stipulation is that it cannot cause interference on the network. As long as you use an FCC approved signal booster such as Wilson Electronics or weBoost booster, boosting a signal in your home or car will not cause problems to the network. Mounted and mobile boosters may be a bit problematic if accessing several different networks. If using a bolt mount or other device it is crucial that the owner check to see that the booster is FCC (Federal Communications Commission) and IC (Industry Canada) approved for cross carrier compatibility (meaning that it meets the regulation requirements for multiple network service provides) to maximize use legally.

Why should a consumer do their own research before buying a cell phone booster?

Naturally, a cell phone signal booster is not idealistic for the cell phone service industry. The service providers do offer paid products which require a subscription. As such, it should come as no surprise that AT&T as well as Verizon wireless have begun legal proceedings to vastly limit the use of the cell phone booster. According to a release from the N.Y. Times the network providers are claiming that the stipulations put in place by the FCC does little to negate the interference caused by some cell phone signal boosters that are not approved by FCC. Their main argument is that these devices do not have a manual nor automatic shut off when interference is detected.

Because the FCC does mandate that devices be turned off when interference is detected, it is crucial that owners obtain their own data about the interference probability and how to avoid causing discrepancies to a network, especially when using a device that is not "standard" for a service provider (and not approved by FCC). If using such a device with factual data that proves that your device is safe, it is less apt to be rubber stamped as being a harmful device than if you simply register the product and hope for the best.

Should you own a cell phone signal booster?

There is nothing illegal about owning a cell phone booster or using one for that matter. The issue that arises is when people try to skip around the regulations and the safeguards which are in place. When this occurs, then the use and the ownership are illegal. Please note that cell phone booster applications have not been regulated by the FCC at this time and some personalized cell phone signal boosters may not fall under the guidelines set by the FCC. This being stated you should look to see if the product you are using meets the stipulations and requirements set forth by the FCC and the service providers.

Our cell phone signal boosters are IC and FCC approved with automatic shut down feature when oscillation is detected to prevent any damage to the mobile network. Therefore, they are perfectly safe and absolutely legal to use after registration with the respective carrier using the links provided above.

Questions? Call us for a FREE product recommendation. Need a cell phone booster installer? We offer installation services by a certified installing team that installs boosters nationwide across USA and Canada. Submit your details for a quote to have your amplifier kit installed by professionals.

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