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Wireless Networking

Cellphone Carriers Try To Control Signal Boosters 231

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the more-bars-please dept.
digitaldc writes "[Repeaters], which cost from $250 to $1,000, depending on how much they increase a signal, work by first capturing cell signals through an external antenna, ideally affixed to the roof of a dwelling. A coaxial cable then transmits the signal inside the house to an amplifier and internal antenna, which strengthen and retransmit it to cellphones... In March, CTIA-The Wireless Association, which represents cellular service providers, filed a complaint with the Federal Communications Commission demanding stricter regulation of signal boosters."
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Cellphone Carriers Try To Control Signal Boosters

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  • Paywalled (Score:5, Informative)

    by MetalliQaZ (539913) on Thursday November 18, 2010 @11:54AM (#34268646)

    I clicked through Google news to get it "free"... http://news.google.com/news/search?q=stricter+regulation+of+signal+boosters [google.com]

  • Fail. I wanted to know "why" the cell companies don't like these boosters. What's wrong with wanting to give your cellphone better reception or transmission? It used to be commonplace (cars driving around with them on their roofs).

    • by falldeaf (968657)
      I'd guess it's wrong because that doesn't make the carriers any money? Although, it probably does in the long run if you consider customer experience an important factor.
    • by arth1 (260657) on Thursday November 18, 2010 @12:08PM (#34268872) Homepage Journal

      I wanted to know "why" the cell companies don't like these boosters. What's wrong with wanting to give your cellphone better reception or transmission?

      They like the boosters, but want regulation that prevents competition, i.e. that you will have to buy the equipment from them, at a mark-up.

      It's even worse for the cell-over-internet boxes, where you buy internet access and route your home cell phone traffic over them. They want control, so they can continue to charge you air time, plus lease for the box, all for using your bandwidth instead of them paying to put up extra towers.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        >>>want regulation that prevents competition

        And my libertarian friends wonder why I hate both government AND mega-corporations. We the people no longer matter. Although there is one thing in favor of the megacorps: They can't suck money direct from my wallet, send armed goons to invade my house, or force me to go die in Nam or Iraq or some other stupid war.

        • And my libertarian friends wonder why I hate both government AND mega-corporations.

          That's a non-sequitor, libertarians aren't in favor of government-created monstrosities of any form.

          • by Improv (2467)

            Libertarian politicians are government-created monstrosities ^_^

          • by swb (14022) on Thursday November 18, 2010 @12:55PM (#34269696)

            That's my biggest gripe with most libertarians I've met -- when they finally do concede that large corporations are as much of a threat to liberty as government, they blame government for creating them. Which might be true in some instances (eg, government granted monopoly) but in other instances (eg, Microsoft) it's not, or much less so (and depending on the libertarian philosophy, some are opposed to copyright & patent in any form, which may nullify that answer).

            But it strikes me as too easy to *just* blame the government without questioning corporate power at all.

            • Libertarian here.

              You're right in pointing out that corporations are creations of the state (government). However you are mistaken in understanding of how we might view this sort of thing.

              Over Air Frequencies are allotted, and rightfully so, by government lottery or auction. As such it would be quite easy to include terms of the use of those frequencies to include all sorts of "freedom" for end users (public).

              In this case, the FCC should have jurisdiction for such devices, and not the corporations. Additiona

      • by phyrexianshaw.ca (1265320) on Thursday November 18, 2010 @12:32PM (#34269294) Homepage
        No, they DON'T like boosters.

        this is a fundamental issue in the way wireless communications works, when you stand in one spot in a city within range of three towers, your cell phone attempts to modulate itself onto a portion of the spectrum that will allow it to speak. This in turn means that all three towers now can hear you.
        because all three towers can hear you, but only one is responsible for carrying your traffic the others make that channel unavailable to the people within range of the other two towers. the only thing the towers can do is reduce power to the quadrant the handset is in, allowing people closer to the tower to use it at the same time. even THIS however is limited: if the MobileStation can still reach the other two towers, they can't reduce power far enough to allow anybody else to use those channels.

        once you install powered signal boosters, your cell phone now may be able to reach twenty towers. those towers each have a limited number of 'slots' available for users to use, (infact the number of GSM channels is currently around 32, though through timeframing of each channel there are 7-14frames per channel/second) meaning that you effectively are now multiplying your capacity based on how many towers you can hit.

        the issue here is NOT with people that are in small towns/remote location, telco's are happy to let people put up their own repeaters to enlarge the telco's network at no cost to the telco. the issue they have is that people in downtown apartments with lead paint think that by hitting every tower in 15 square blocks just so they can repeat it indoors for one customer is a good thing.

        by using the air to communicate: you have to learn to share it with others. we only have one global collection of air for which EMR can radiate.
        • by Shakrai (717556) on Thursday November 18, 2010 @12:42PM (#34269448) Journal

          because all three towers can hear you, but only one is responsible for carrying your traffic the others make that channel unavailable to the people within range of the other two towers

          This is a overly simplistic explanation. GSM uses frequency hopping for the uplink (i.e: phone to tower) channel to mitigate this sort of interference. The other towers don't perceive your phone as anything other than random background noise. CDMA uses a different mechanism (spread spectrum using a pseduo-random code) to achieve the same results, plus it has the added benefit of being able to do soft-handoffs [wikipedia.org], i.e: your phone is literally talking to multiple towers at the same time.

          The whole point of digital technology is to enable multiple users to share the same channel. Repeaters don't really defeat this. What they can do is increase noise along with signal, usually to the detriment of any phones within range of them. The carriers are rightfully peeved about them because they've spent billions of dollars to license the spectrum that they use and were supposed to have exclusive rights to deploy devices that transmit on that spectrum.

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            Whaaaaaaaaaat!

            the wireless spectrum is only so large, and you can only multiplex so many people onto any one frequency. Even if you hop the around frequencies: they still only have so many total channels available. as much as one wants to think that the air will scale indefinitely: it doesn't. every time you add more time-slots to a frequency or frequencies to a conversation: it increases the latency and error rate.

            digital technology doesn't quite do the job one hopes it would, as it's still carrying
          • I guess my wording was a little off. technically, it's the towers can't reduce power far enough to allow other MS's so communicate on the frames occupied by other callers.

            there are a maximum of 125 channels for both up and down stream communication in GSM. using the wonders of TDMA, there are 8 slots containing 24 frames for data. each user get's a frame per slot, meaning you can multiplex a maximum of 3000 simultaneous conversations while maintaining 120ms latency per tower.

            that's assuming that the a
        • >>>only one tower is responsible for carrying your traffic; the others make that channel unavailable to the people within range of the other two towers.

          Bzzzz. That's how it worked under the old Analog frequency division multiplexing, but it's not how it works on modern Coded multiplexing which allows multiple users to use the same channel concurrently.

        • I'm not trolling, but are there really so many towers in large areas that you have many available? We don't seem to have a large number of towers in South Florida (many spots without coverage for both Sprint and AT&T).
        • by pablo_max (626328)

          This is exactly correct.
          It is to do with channel allocation and link budget. Not to mention that it plays hell when suddenly your signal is attenuated by 50 dB because you are no longer on your personal cell.
          Lets say the tower you were on is now out of reach, but you never performed a proper detach and your phone is now trying to perform a location update on tower B. It's a pain in the ass from a network management point of view.

      • while I agree with your comment that they want to regulate away the competition that they have no control over, it is just not that easy to "put up extra towers".
        I have terrible service in my home and there is nowhere they can stick up another tower in my residential neighborhood.
        I would let them stick a tower in my backyard but the neighbors won't allow it.
        They all want great reception but they don't want the towers anywhere near their homes.
        The only solution I can think of is to use existing above gro
      • by geekoid (135745)

        Why they might like that, that's not the reason. They're a non regulated device broadcasting signal on a regulated spectrum. They want to be sure they comply; otherwise they may* interfere with the spectrum.

        *If not regulated, I can guarantee you poor quality device with little or no controls will eventually saturate the market.

    • Sounded like they didn't want other companies selling boosters. They want to be the only ones capable of providing such devices. Or even eliminate the concept of the boosters entirely, and move towards funneling calls over the customers broadband connection.

      That allows a business model like Verizon's, where they will be more than happy to charge you for the device to send their calls over your own internet connection.

    • by notgm (1069012)

      rf engineers don't like these boosters because they extend signals in unpredictable/uncontrollable ways.

      if a cell site is propagating signal incorrectly, it can be fixed via down-tilt, power-stepping, or a host of internal-to-the-system parameters.

      however, if a cell site is propagating signal just fine, but some joe is extending its signal five miles beyond its expected range, and another joe is pulling from him another two miles away, it becomes nearly impossible to predict how adjustments will affect the

      • by Firethorn (177587)

        however, if a cell site is propagating signal just fine, but some joe is extending its signal five miles beyond its expected range, and another joe is pulling from him another two miles away

        That is unlikely. These boosters are two antenna jobs - normally a directional mounted outside pointed at the closest tower, and a small omni inside (or a plate type on an appropriate wall). The gain on the inside is such that only really close phones will pick it up. The setup I was looking at would have gotten my house, and maybe a bit of the yard - when the next closest tower was ~30 miles away.

        I can see requiring FCC certification and some electronics to make sure the booster plays nice by providing

      • by Vancorps (746090)

        Just so you know, you would not be able to extend their signal 5 miles down the way, that would take a couple of watts whereas boosters from the manufacturers in the article are well below that. I have great reception on top of this building and almost no reception inside the building. Now that I have a repeater I can actually make calls inside. I'm not sure extending their signal 40 feet down in a 3000 square foot section of the building is going to cause any issues whatsoever with their weak signal.

        We ar

    • by notgm (1069012)

      a clarifying point - a passive antenna on a car or house is not a booster - the devices in question take the signal in, amplify it, and retransmit it.

      • by Vancorps (746090)
        Retransmit it 40 feet down yes where reception is poor, interference would be next to nothing when you go from having no reception to enough to make a call.
    • Modern libertarian is NOT the same as Jeffersonian.

      I am so sick and god damn tired of people trying to associate there stupid Libertarian fallacies.

      The very thinkgs Jeffersonians believe in ou contrary to Libertarians.

      For example" Jeffersonians think Banks, People who run them, and industrialist are corrupt and should be regulated.

      Another example: Jeffersonians recognize that the constitution isn't written in stone and will need to adopt according to the current generation.

      This is the same shit they lied ab

  • The obvious answer (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jgreco (1542031) on Thursday November 18, 2010 @12:01PM (#34268742)

    which is for carriers to improve their coverage, doesn't even occur to them, eh.

    Customers so desperate to be able to use a sucky service that they're willing to do the job a carrier ought to be doing... how many other businesses would *kill* to have that problem?

    • by VShael (62735)

      Customers so desperate to be able to use a sucky service that they're willing to do the job a carrier ought to be doing... how many other businesses would *kill* to have that problem?

      Ah, but they want the customer to pay *them* (the carriers) for the privilege of solving the carriers problem, not some upstart little company who has started selling boosters on Amazon.

      Surely, a new level of greed.

      • by jgreco (1542031)

        I concede the point. at&t already tried to sell me one of their femtocells. I told them to fix their damn coverage. They had actually turned off 3G on the local tower... but that's another story.

      • Ah, but they want the customer to pay *them* (the carriers) for the privilege of solving the carriers problem, not some upstart little company who has started selling boosters on Amazon.

        You're not kidding. I recently installed a Wilson [amazon.com] booster that I got from Amazon, and it's like a whole new world for me.

        Usually I had about 5 minutes of signal coverage leaving work, which is only useful for short conversations. On my long Interstate drives I'd lose signal about every 15 minutes, which made drive-time tal

    • by aztektum (170569)

      While I was working at Sprint a few years ago, they began talking about phones with wifi that would use a home users internet when network signal was low. I remember thinking the same thing "Way to offload your job onto the customer." They would also get to *pay* for this feature as another service charge.

    • by FlyingGuy (989135)

      You and the other clueless people who mod'd you +5 just don't get it.

      I live in the SF Bay Area and if there ever was a "TechnoLand" this is it, well in the US anyway.

      You obviously don't have a clue about what it takes to put in one (1) cell tower. The average time from application to tower turn up in San Francisco is 3 to 5 Years! There are so many hearings and reviews you have to go through it is beyond ridiculous. My wife is a commercial property manager and she has said YES to every cell carrier who h

  • Tough call... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MetalliQaZ (539913) on Thursday November 18, 2010 @12:01PM (#34268750)

    From TFA,
    "Supported by separate filings by AT&T and Verizon, the CTIA claims that boosters interfere with cellular networks and disrupt service to customers. As a result, CTIA has asked the F.C.C. to require that “the use of signal boosters be coordinated with and controlled by commission licensees and the sale and marketing of such devices be limited to authorized parties.” "

    In other words, "we want exclusive rights to sell them, and not because it will make us tons of money and save the cost of improving our networks in poorly covered areas, we are actually looking out for consumers".

    While I'm sure their motivations are at least somewhat greedy, I can't imagine the frustration of living next door to a guy who has a poorly configured or broken repeater that prevents me from making calls.

    tough call...

    • by jgreco (1542031)

      Of course, they already have a ton of random devices all successfully sharing the airwaves. I can pop a SIM card in any random (unlocked, sigh) GSM phone that works on at&t frequencies and expect it to work. Why is it that it's just the cell repeaters that are a problem?

      • Perhaps because a GSM phone conforms to the GSM mobile phone standard, whereas a signal booster is a device that retransmits all radio signals in a certain part of the spectrum?

        Or to use the car analogy: there's a reason why Amtrak would get annoyed at you trying to drive your Honda Odyssey over its rails, despite the large number of different locomotives that work on it.

      • I'd hazard an uneducated guess that your random cell phone is connecting to a cell tower, and is doing what the system was built to handle. A repeater, on the other hand, is broadcasting its own 3g signal. I honestly don't know how much that could interfere with legitimate service as I don't know how efficient the repeaters really are, but it seems clear that it's a far different use case.
  • Can anyone give recommendations to cell phone boosters that they have used? I'm with T-Mobile and typically get 1 bar in the house (if I am lucky). T-Mobiles solution is to allow calls via Wi-Fi but that only works if you have wi-fi enabled phone AND a contract - and I have neither. And I don't want to change carriers either.
    • by jgreco (1542031)

      Wilson makes an absolutely fantastic booster for GSM, the 812201, which is a "direct connect" (wired) booster for a single device. I've used it with data cards and cell phones along zero-bar areas like Amtrak lines in Pennsylvania (suddenly had 3 bars and was the only person on the train with a working cell phone) and in Utah, which has sparse GSM coverage due to low population. This isn't a good house solution, but it'd make me willing to bet on their other products.

      • I use the Wilson dual-band CDMA/Sprint version in rural TX. I don't have the model info in front of me, but it is 12vDC, comes with a contact retransmit antenna (you have to set your phone in contact with it to work) and a 25' magnetic uni-directional exterior antenna. It is designed primarily for use inside a vehicle, but my understanding is you can replace both antennas (BNC connectors to coax) with directional models. As long as you don't overlap the coverage (or you are effectively retransmitting inside

    • by thynk (653762)

      You might check out UMA or wifi-calling that Tmob has on some of their handsets. I use it on my G2 and it's beautiful for voice and SMS (Not MMS).

  • by dhickman (958529) on Thursday November 18, 2010 @12:12PM (#34268944)
    An old ham radio saying is all an amplifier does is amplify crap.

    People get amps to make up with poor cell service, and/or the fact that their tiny little handset does not work in a rural area/congested area.

    Since the majority of people out there do not know how to properly install an antenna/transmitter, I am sure that the amps cause all kinds of headaches for the carriers.

    Personally I use in my truck a Motorola M900 ( a full power gsm bag phone) for its excellent hands free and for the high power when I need it.
    Otherwise I carry my N900 around for portablily and cool features, but I do not expect it to work 20 miles from the nearest tower.
    • by TWX (665546) on Thursday November 18, 2010 @12:30PM (#34269264)

      An old ham radio saying is all an amplifier does is amplify crap.

      That may be true if the device is solely placed where the signal is poor, the tuner is inadequate, the antenna is bad, and the amplifier has nothing to work with, but the solutions that I've seen nullify many of these problems.

      These devices have two parts. One part, located ideally outside, high up, talks to the cell company. the other part, located where the poorest signal is normally, talks to the cell phones. On top of that, these devices have much larger antennas than the phones do, and with more size they can also have better radio tuners. So, you're not amplifying crap, you're getting a better signal and forwarding it to another device that is in an area that can't get the original.

      • Not to mention, some repeaters are digital. The whole point of a digital repeater is that an amplifier can correct the shitty signal.

        Also not to mention: Phones are TWO WAY. A nearby repeater greatly increases the disproportionate outgoing range of your cell phone.

        If you've ever been able to hear someone on your cell, but they can not hear you, you probably could have benefited from an amplifier.

    • by Sockatume (732728)

      An old ham radio saying is all an amplifier does is amplify crap.

      If a HAM operator has bad reception, they've got bad reception in pretty optimal receiving conditions: a good antenna in a sensible place. So the signal must be the limiting factor. Amplification is not going to help that. Cellphone users try to get reception on tiny antennas, next to their leg, in the middle of their house. The signal outside might be pretty decent. Repeating it indoors could rescue it.

  • Passive Boosters? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Joe U (443617) on Thursday November 18, 2010 @12:12PM (#34268948) Homepage Journal

    Anyone ever try a passive booster?

    Overly simplified: it's basically an external antenna connected to an internal antenna.

    • Re:Passive Boosters? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by dmgxmichael (1219692) on Thursday November 18, 2010 @12:33PM (#34269306) Homepage

      Yes, when I drove a truck. They are very popular with truck drivers and you can find them at any truck stop -- admittedly in a form well suited to being bolted to a truck. Most drivers put the thing on whatever mirror is not holding their CB ariel. I have seen a few suitable for use in a car there though, so look around.

      • by Guppy (12314)

        Are any of these examples of what you're talking about?
        http://www.google.com/products?q=cell%20phone%20passive%20repeater [google.com]

        I'm curious about them, but cautious about cheap ones which may not work.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by adolf (21054)

          They work fine.

          It's just two antennas, connected together. In a car (which acts a bit like a Faraday cage), you might just think of it as a hole that allows the RF to leak in, plus a little bit more height.

          In my mostly-windowless work van, I've built my own: There is a through-mounted gain antenna on the roof, and a magnetic mount gain antenna on the inside, connected by a few inches of coax.

          Works well enough: I put it together after I was on my way to a job one day, and close to my destination there was

    • by MobyDisk (75490)

      Fewer and fewer phones are coming with connectors for external antennas.

    • by Guppy (12314)

      Not a passive booster, but I've used an external antenna before on my Touch HTC -- which still has a jack for such a thing (many newer phones do not, or have them hidden internally with no holes in the case for access).

      In some locations I sent from 0-1 bars to 1-2 bar, which doesn't sound like much but makes an enormous difference in being able to make phone calls and transmit data.

      I also tested it out using Field test mode (For those with an HTC Touch, enter ##33284# to access)
      to see the dbm measurements,

  • by RobinEggs (1453925) on Thursday November 18, 2010 @12:15PM (#34268990)
    Read the third paragraph from the bottom to see what's really happening. Carriers don't want boosters dead, they simply want to become the vendors rather than allow smaller companies a slice of the action.

    Furthermore, look at what femtocells, the type of boosters Verizon and AT&T want to sell you, actually do: they "push wireless signals onto the Internet" to improve signal.

    That's right, rather than upgrade networks that the iPhone and Droid will saturate to uselessness within the next year (I hear that in NYC AT&T is already almost worthless), they're pushing a device that works around their own incompetence by shoving your "wireless" signal back onto copper, fiber, or coax before it even leaves your house. They're not just avoiding the issue of under-developed networks, they've figured out how to charge you for it.

    Rather than trying to ban unregulated devices and trying to transform our cell phones into wireless landlines wherever they can manage it, how about they propose better specifications for the "boosters" that actually boost a wireless signal, or spend some money on their damn networks?
    • by b0bby (201198) on Thursday November 18, 2010 @12:46PM (#34269542) Homepage

      Mod parent up - boosters sold by others still use their towers, femtocells sold by the carriers use your internet connection. If they can outlaw the boosters, the carriers win twice.

    • by kbielefe (606566)

      I make a living writing embedded software for telecommunications equipment and am also a ham radio operator, so I have a hard time seeing why this isn't blindingly obvious to everyone, but if you want more wireless bandwidth and less congestion, each individual's signal must have the lowest power necessary for reliable communication.

      For example, say you have 100 cell phones in active use at any given time in your neighborhood. If every cell phone signal in that neighborhood is boosted to be able to cover t

      • by russotto (537200)

        Boosting an individual's signal may be temporarily good for that individual, but bad for the system.

        If the booster behaves the same as any other cellular device -- that is, has the same maximum power and adaptive power characteristics -- then from the system's point of view it's the same as if someone climbed up on their roof with such a device. A booster can have more power than a handheld cellphone (because FCC human exposure limits for handheld phones are less than the limits for cellular devices in gen

        • by kbielefe (606566)

          from the system's point of view it's the same as if someone climbed up on their roof

          True, but irrelevant. Climbing on the roof is still better for the individual at the expense of the system. Just because behavior is accepted and accounted for doesn't make it optimal.

  • T-Mobile 3G Booster (Score:2, Interesting)

    by vuke69 (450194)

    http://jdteck.com/jd55-pr-kit-std-consumer-repeater-kits-p-692.html [jdteck.com]

    Option "I" it's the only repeater on the market that works with T-Mobile 3G in the US.

  • The article mentions that AT&T and Verizon are selling femtocells for $150 and $250 respectively, while T-Mobile has some "WiFi phones" that can use VoIP directly and Sprint gives out their femtocells for free to customers with proven signal issues.

    Unlike AT&T and Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile have not told the F.C.C. of any concerns about boosters.

    While I do understand that a proliferation of random radio devices could very well lead to issues, it does seem a bit suspect that the carriers selling competing products are complaining about this, while the carriers that are not selling them have not mentio

  • by Animats (122034) on Thursday November 18, 2010 @01:48PM (#34270624) Homepage

    The problem with "boosters" is that they're just amplifiers. They're not players in the cell phone RF protocol system.

    Everything that talks in the cell phone bands is supposed to be part of a system that has RF power level control and talks to the cell phone control station. That's what keeps the transmitters from jamming each other. Adding a dumb transmitter isn't helpful. The right answer would be a "femtocell" unit which connects to an external antenna and connected to the cellular network, and is itself a proper player in the RF protocol.

    It would be OK to have a booster if the problem was that you're in a remote location and just need some antenna height to get out. (I'm in such a situation; I'm in a semi-rural area and there's a hill between my house and the nearest cell tower.) What's not OK is installing a booster in Manhattan, where you can't get through because the bands are cluttered, not empty. More RF signal strength just raises the noise floor and cuts system bandwidth. In a crowded area, what's needed is another wired path into the network, not more RF power.

    A cell phone that could seamlessly transition from a cell phone network to VoIP over WiFi would be consistent with the system design. There ought to be an Android app for that.

  • Boo Hoo (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TheWoozle (984500) on Thursday November 18, 2010 @01:55PM (#34270756)

    The answer should be obvious: if they want this, they need to support the ability of the FCC to enforce Net Neutrality.

    What?! What does this have to do with Net Neutrality? It's simple:

    Customer: We want Net Neutrality regulations to ensure a true free market!
    Telco: No! You cannot tell us how to manage traffic on our networks! Regulation is BAD!

    but suddenly the shoe is on the other foot...

    Telco: We need regulation to protect the network! Regulation is GOOD!
    Customer: You need to manage your network better! You shouldn't make this a less free market to solve technical issues!

  • Sounds good to me (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ArhcAngel (247594) on Thursday November 18, 2010 @02:12PM (#34271030)

    Let them get the law but have it regulate all femtocels such that third parties can provide them to end users and carriers cannot charge extra for their use.

  • by s122604 (1018036) on Thursday November 18, 2010 @03:06PM (#34271950)
    Not the football game, I'm talking about 27.025Mhz

    How long till we have the tragedy of the commons effect seen on 27MHZ CB...
  • by kriston (7886) on Friday November 19, 2010 @12:42AM (#34278568) Homepage Journal

    It's simple. Mobile phones were not intended for household use. The 1900 MHz frequency does not penetrate walls very well. Those services (AT&T and VZW) that do have 850 MHz spectrum have moved as much of their voice service and control channels down to 850 MHz as possible because it penetrates walls so much better.

    Sprint and T-Mobile are stuck in the 1900 MHz range in most markets. These are the majority of booster customers. The problem is that the boosters mess up an already weak service.

    In Sprint's case, it's exponentially worse, since CDMA only works because the handset and the base station carefully agree on power levels, and the booster removes that control, thus causing havoc all over the Sprint CDMA bands.

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