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AT&T, Verizon Warn FCC of Possible Static From Signal Boosters

U.S. regulators moved toward approving wider use of boosters for mobile-telephone signals, devices that wireless companies led by AT&T Inc. and Verizon Wireless say may cause interference if not properly deployed.

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission today said it wants to broaden the availability and use of signal boosters to enhance wireless coverage for consumers, particularly in rural and underserved areas. The agency asked for comments on rules to ensure that boosters do not adversely affect wireless networks.

“We applaud the commission for moving forward on a consumer-friendly issue,” Harold Feld, legal director for Public Knowledge, a Washington-based advocacy group, said in an e-mail. “Signal boosters in the home, when designed to avoid interference, will contribute to improving wireless coverage.”

CTIA-the Wireless Association, with members including AT&T, Verizon and Sprint Nextel Corp., is “concerned that poorly manufactured or improperly installed boosters can do much more harm than good,” Brian Josef, an assistant vice president, said in an e-mail. “The record is full of examples of such harm.”

Boosters “can cause massive interference,” Jeanine Poltronieri, an AT&T assistant vice president, said in a blog posting today. The company is “hopeful” the FCC will “provide some clarity to the rules of the road.”

The only way to halt booster interference now is to ask the FCC to cite the offender, Poltronieri wrote. “There must be a way to take action against manufacturers who distribute devices that cause interference,” she wrote.

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