Wi-Fi Boosters & the FCC: Who's Running Interference?

Wi-Fi Boosters & the FCC: Who's Running Interference?

If you've ever spent time trying to get a better signal from your Wi-Fi, you know that dealing with a weak signal can be a serious pain. That's why Wi-Fi signal boosters are so handy; they allow you to extend the reach of your network so you aren't out of luck when you want to use the internet in different areas of your home. Some Wi-Fi boosters can extend a signal up to 3,000 square feet indoors. Perfect, right? Unfortunately, service providers are putting the pressure on the FCC to crack down on both the manufacturers and the users of Wi-Fi boosters.

Here s the thing: Wi-Fi boosters definitely have their perks. When it comes to owning a small business, boosters can help extend a network that would otherwise cost way more to keep up and running with separate connections. Instead of purchasing different connections, all employees can hop on the same network, as long as it's powerful enough. And for homeowners who deal with poor service and spotty connections throughout the house, boosters help extend the signal so they aren't stuck surfing the web in only one area of the house.

Even the government utilizes boosters to help cut operating costs. Wireless extenders have been offered to police, fire, and public departments to help keep employees in the loop and budget bottom lines low. It'll be a hard fight for service providers to convince the FCC to take action when boosters go as far up as the Department of Homeland Security.

But service providers are calling foul on the use of boosters, citing the fact that using them reduces their profits since businesses and homeowners are less likely to purchase more service when their Wi-Fi area is extended. In fact, several homeowners might theoretically be able to pool their resources to use one connection to save money, or a public connection could be utilized by a wider group of people. Those users are taking up more bandwidth, but service providers really have no way of policing, charging, or tracking how and when a signal is being used up and by whom.

So what's going to happen with the fight at a standstill? While the FCC hasn't yet made a move, with pressure from big-name providers like AT&T, exploration and possible regulations are sure to be forthcoming. It'll probably be months or even years before official action is taken. In the meantime, hearings and investigations will take place to analyze the issue and see which party is in the right. Of course, boosters are big business for technology, so reducing or eliminating their use altogether could slash profits. The FCC has to walk on eggshells to make sure that consumers are protected, but that service providers feel that a fair solution is on the horizon. Until then, Wi-Fi boosters will continue to be a staple in homes and businesses across America.

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