Topics covered in this article:
- How will I know if a signal booster is Certified or Uncertified?
- Is regulation Amazon’s responsibility?
- Why is an illegal or uncertified signal booster so unsafe?
- Is there an online list of shonky brands to avoid?
- How do I know I'm purchasing the right signal booster?
There's a right and wrong way of buying anything online, and this includes cellular phone signal boosters. Buying the wrong signal booster is going to set you up for problems and a lot of stress.
The Risk of Online Shopping.
Who doesn't love shopping at Amazon? They have got anything and everything you could possibly think of, which makes online shopping so convenient. However, there's always an element of risk when buying online, regardless of what you're looking for, and unfortunately there's risk involved when buying cellular signal boosters on their site. It is true that Amazon has been policing the legality of their products quite well as of late, but there are always going to be people and companies out there with shady marketing practices trying to entice shoppers to buy their shonky products.
Cellular signal boosters have been designed with powerful, extremely precise technology, because boosting cellular frequencies is serious business. All companies involved in manufacturing signal boosters must abide by certain laws and regulations when designing and manufacturing their products. Unfortunately, the fact that there're laws and regulations set in place for the design and manufacture of signal boosters doesn't mean that all manufacturers will necessarily follow them.
The FCC enabled tighter regulations around the signal booster industry around 6 years ago, resulting in very strict standards around all signal boosters marketed and sold in United States. This was brought about because misconfigured or poorly manufactured signal boosters have the ability to disrupt entire networks in their area. Cellular service can be knocked out for everyone close by, simply because someone purchased a non-compliant device.
So how can online shoppers avoid purchasing a cellular signal booster that is not FCC compliant?
No. 1: How Will I Know If A Signal Boost Is Certified or Uncertified?
One of the great things about signal boosters is that they are not very expensive to purchase - some come in at between $400 and $500. But it is pretty exciting when you're hunting online for a signal booster and you suddenly see one advertised at half the price. So, let us break this down and see what is really going on.
Is the Signal Booster FCC-Approved?
If you're looking at purchasing a signal booster that is not FCC-certified, don't even consider it - move on and look for something else. Why is FCC-certification so important? When a signal booster is FCC-certified it not only means that it will work well, it also means that it is safe for you, your neighbors, and the neighboring cell towers.
Unfortunately, we have seen a lot of uncertified, unauthorized signal boosters on Amazon, with most set at much lower price points than FCC-certified boosters. To make it worse, a lot of the signal boosters are top sellers, with some even being named Amazon's Choice. We have even heard from people who have purchased these shonky devices who say that there was in fact paperwork included that declared the device certified; however, on closer inspection they discovered that the certification applied to an entirely different product!
Problems During Registration.
Understandably, many carriers request that signal boosters be registered with them. So, when the owner of a new signal booster tries to register their unauthorized product, the carrier is immediately aware. These carriers will not allow you to use an uncertified booster in your home or office. Should you decide to go ahead and use an uncertified booster and forego the registration process, there's every likelihood that you will create problems for the local cell tower and that a representative from your carrier, or from the FCC, will appear on your doorstep demanding that the device be shut off.
Amazon's Fake Reviews.
Amazon’s product reviews should be taken with a grain of salt, simply because a lot of the reviews are appropriated. By "appropriated" we mean that the reviews have been copied and pasted from an entirely different product and the seller attempts to pass the reviews off as an original review.
Appropriating reviews is a questionable technique designed to trick the Amazon algorithm into thinking a certain product is very popular. For example, we recently read a review on a signal booster's product page that was clearly a review on curtains – definitely not a signal booster! Another one was for a suitcase, and this review was included in reviews for that specific signal booster.
No. 2: Is Regulation Amazon's Responsibility?
We understand that Amazon is always working hard to ensure that inappropriate listings are removed, but unfortunately it doesn't happen right away. The blame lies with companies listing these products as they continue looking for false and manipulative ways to make their products appear approved.
It was not that long ago that Wired, the popular website and magazine, took a closer look at the world of Amazon's unregulated signal boosters. This probe was done in conjunction with some of the main players in the signal boosting industry, including SureCall. Amazon was duly notified about the problem, including the specific products and brands that were being illegally sold on their site, and Amazon has recently been keeping a close eye on this problem.
As part of Wired's research, every manufacturer and brand found on Amazon was cross-referenced with the FCC's database, with the result that many unscrupulous third-party vendors were uncovered. Interestingly, more than 90 percent of the substandard signal boosters being advertised on Amazon had trademarks linked to China.
Of course, Amazon is not the only online site selling uncertified signal boosters, but they are the biggest one. And while we understand that a large part of Amazon's hugely successful business model is the enormous number of independent vendors who use this platform to sell their products, also understanding that it would be a massive undertaking trying to regulate these merchants, we do feel that the amount of counterfeit items across innumerable industries on the Amazon platform is simply not acceptable.
No. 3: Why Is An Illegal Or Uncertified Signal Booster So Unsafe?
Any cellular signal booster that is sold without FCC certification is much more likely to interfere with mobile networks and disrupt service. Should this occur, you and anyone living in your area, could find that you're unable to make emergency calls if necessary.
It was reported that one customer had an AT&T representative visit him at his home, telling him they had identified an unauthorized signal booster at his address which was causing the malfunction of three separate cell towers in the area. Another consumer was visited by a representative from his carrier, threatening that the FCC would be contacting him if his signal booster wasn't immediately turned off.
It should be pointed out that anyone using an unauthorized signal booster can be fined, and it is also against the law for these devices to be sold. As per FCC guidelines, anyone operating a cellular signal booster that is not consumer certified can be liable for penalties in excess of $100,000.
How Do These Unauthorized Signal Boosters Cause Interference?
In layman's terms, because many of these products are poorly constructed, during self-installation the customer will be unable to attain the appropriate distance between components of the booster kit, meaning the amplifier, external antenna, and inside antenna. This causes oscillation, which is a kind of feedback loop, which will cause the device to malfunction. It is similar to when a microphone and speaker are located too close together.
One of two things typically happens if an uncertified cellular signal booster tries to operate under these conditions:
- The booster will be rendered useless because there's no effective connection between the signal booster and the tower; or
- There is a connection between the signal booster and the tower, but it is misaligned, causing tremendous interference.
Either way, the result will be dropped calls and other types of signal interference for people living in area.
Shonky Sellers Give the Entire Signal Boosting Industry a Bad Reputation.
At some point in time, every major manufacturer of cellular signal boosters has attempted to have these frauds removed from Amazon. When an unsuspecting online shopper gets duped, it adversely affects the entire signal boosting industry, and of course it reflects badly on the legitimate companies who strive for transparency, honesty, and professionalism. SureCall is dedicated to protecting not just their own products, but the entire signal boosting industry.
No. 4: Is There An Online List Of Shonky Brands To Avoid?
Yes, there is. Below we have listed the brands that SureCall has determined as selling uncertified cell phone signal boosters on Amazon. They have provided this list so all buyers can be made aware:
Please keep in mind that above list is not up-to-date and there could be a few more dubious players that have entered the marketplace since this list was compiled.
No. 5: How Do I Know I'm Purchasing The Right Signal Booster?
When researching signal boosters online, the easiest way (and possibly the only way) to ensure you're purchasing a certified product is to go direct to SignalBooster.com, the reputable seller of vetted signal booster brands. Simply visit our differences between legal and illegal signal boosters page that offers easy tool to buy the most suitable legal signal booster.
We strongly suggest that you apply the information you have learned in this article when making a signal booster purchase. Don't forget that we are always here to offer advice, so please don't hesitate to call or email us if you have any queries at all. We're happy to help out in any way we can to ensure you get the best cellular signal booster for your needs.
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