Coverage area depends on the signal strength outside your building.
If you have one bar of signal outside the building or on the roof, your cell phone amplifier will have a significantly lower coverage area than if you have strong outdoor signal.
This cell phone signal booster will improve 2G voice and 3G data on all major North American carriers.
That includes AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, Sprint, US Cellular, and all Canadian carriers.
This cell phone signal booster does not support any 4G LTE bands.
4G LTE is used for high-speed data services. It won't affect your existing 4G LTE signals, but it won't amplify them either.
This cell phone signal booster will improve 4G LTE data signals on all major North American carriers.
That includes AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, Sprint, US Cellular, and all Canadian carriers. 4G LTE is used for high-speed data services, and will be used by many carriers in the near future for "HD Voice" service.
February 13th, 2014, Sina Khanifar
In December 2013, the wireless trade group CTIA wrote a letter to the Tom Wheeler and the other commissioners of the FCC. That letter announced that all four of the major carriers had committed to adopting six voluntary measures to make unlocking cell phones easier for consumers.
That "voluntary" agreement came at the last minute, after months of pressure from the FCC. In late 2012, the Librarian of Congress had removed an exemption from the DMCA for cellphone unlocking. Consumers were appalled. Without an exemption for using third-party software to unlock devices, the only way to break phones and tablets free from carrier's software locks was by asking the carriers themselves. Trying to negotiate anything with a wireless carrier's support center is infuriating, let alone an unlock code.
The President spoke out for the need for better unlocking practices, and the FCC threatened to impose new regulations on the carriers. But Wheeler gave the carriers an out: if they were able to commit to voluntarily improve their policies by the end of 2013, he wouldn't push for regulation. So on December 13th, just a few weeks shy of Wheeler's deadline, the carriers came up with six "voluntary" unlocking principles and promised to implement them within a year.
Earlier this week, the FCC announced that it was “proud to report that the country’s major providers have met their commitment.” I’ve spent much of the last two years advocating for the right to unlock and modify devices (cellular or otherwise), so I was particularly curious to check out exactly how each carrier has implemented the principles set out in the CTIA’s Consumer Code for Wireless Service.
|Disclosure||Each carrier should post clear, concise and accessible policies for how they'll handle unlocking postpaid and prepaid devices.|
|Postpaid policy||Postpaid customer’s phones should be unlocked by carriers for:
|Prepaid policy||Prepaid phones should be unlocked no later than one year after initial activation, as long as “reasonable time, payment or usage requirements” are met.|
|Notification||Carriers should notify customers that their devices are eligible for unlocking or automatically unlock user's devices once they’re eligible for a free unlock. For prepaid customers, that notice can occur at the point of sale or via a notice on the website.|
|Response time||Carriers should unlock devices within 2 days of receiving a request, or at least send a request to the OEM within 2 days, or explain why the device can’t be unlocked or they might need more time.|
|Deployed personnel||Carriers should unlock devices for deployed military personnel who are customers in good standing as long as they show deployment papers.|
The most significant missing component from the "Consumer Code" is a commitment from carriers to accept unlocked devices on their networks.
Interoperability is an obvious and critical piece of what makes unlocking valuable. If you unlock your phone, you need to be able to take it to another carrier and use it. Sure, in some cases the technologies differ (for example CDMA vs GSM), but with the rollout of LTE and modern smartphones with mutli-band, multi-technology support (including the iPhone), that is a decreasingly common barrier.
But many carriers, most notably Sprint, specifically say that they won't activate phones that were originally sold by another carrier. That's despite the cellular technologies the phones use being entirely standardized.
In Sprint's case, those restrictions even apply to their own MVNOs. Virgin Mobile devices run entirely on Sprint's network. But even if Virgin Mobile unlocks it for you, Sprint won't activate it for use on a prepaid or postpaid account. It's patently absurd: there's simply no good reason to prevent users from bringing their own devices - in fact, it makes it even hard for consumers to switch to your carrier. The only justification for that kind of policy is to gouge customers and force them to buy more expensive, "carrier-approved" devices that come with 2 year contracts.
Verizon is the only carrier that seems to have realized how ridiculous "locking" consumer's devices is in the first place. They've almost entirely stopped locking phones, and make it trivially simple to unlock any phones that may have a lock. But even they don't make interoperability simple. Their Bring Your Own Device" program makes it clear that your phone needs to be a "unused Verizon phone" to be elligible.
Update: It turns out Verizon may have had their hands forced. They were apparently required to unlock phones by the FCC when they bought licenses in the 700MHz Block C auction.
It's worth taking a step back and examining the absurdity of these locks. If you've paid for your AT&T phone, committed to a 2-year contract, and agreed to an "early termination fee," what purpose does a lock really serve? If you've paid cash to purchase a prepaid device, why should it come locked to just one carrier?
There's plenty of evidence that locks serve little real commercial purpose. Verizon's business hasn't suffered since they stopped locking their phones. Countries like China and Israel have made locking devices outright illegal with no harm to their wireless industries and plenty of gain for consumers. But unfortunately it's unlikely that Congress or the FCC will take action to implement a similar policy here in the US.
That's exactly why the right to unlock and modify electronics is critical. Corporations may be able to sell us locked-down devices, but consumer's should at least have the right to take action and circumvent those locks as they see fit.
Unfortunately a shortsighted and clumsy provision of the Digital Millenium Copyright Act can make it completely illegal for consumers to modify the devices, software and content they purchase.
The DMCA's "anti-circumvention provision" was a shortsighted law written under pressure from the content industry in 1998, obstensibly with the goal of preventing piracy. But the provision includes a problematic legal loophole: it can make it a crime, punishable by 5 years of jail and $500,000 in fines, for circumventing a "technological protection measure." And that penalty can apply even if there's absolutely no copyright infringement.
Courts have tried to strike down that interpretation of the DMCA, but there's still no clear legal precedent. As a result, the DMCA has been used to threaten software developers, consumers, and security researchers, as well as to harass authors of unlocking software.
Though Congress passed a bill in August of last year to reinstate a temporary exemption to the DMCA for unlocking, that measure will only last until the later this year. As it stands, we may well lose our right to unlock our devices without carrier permission when the Librarian of Congress announces the results of the rulemaking in a few months time.
There's a simple and easy fix to all this. Congress could pass a bill clearly stating that it's not illegal to circumvent a lock as long as there's no intention of copyright infringement. That's exactly what the Unlocking Technology Act would have achieved if it were passed back in 2013. But as is often the case in Congress, the bill was stalled due to opposition from special interests.
It remains to be seen whether Rep. Goodlatte, the chairman of the Houose Judiciary Committee, will include anti-circumvention reform in his current review of US copyright laws. If you've made it this far, take a moment and tweet at him to ask him to take action and protect your right to remix and repair.
To score the carriers, we studied each unlocking policy to check how it compared with the CTIA's Consumer Code. A detailed run-down is available below:
Verizon doesn’t lock any of their 4G LTE or 3G devices, other than their “Phone-in-the-Box” devices, which are trivially unlockable with either the code “000000” or “123456.” So we automatically gave them credit for all the other categories.
Update: Verizon were apparently required to unlock phones by the FCC when they bought licenses in the 700MHz Block C auction, hence their more reasonable unlocking policy.
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