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Telecom Changes: Big Opportunities for Integrators

Rumored Apple entry into telecom, along with 4G transition, spawn new Wilson Electronics authorized dealer program to help CE pros take advantage.


Jason Knott · August 7, 2012

There are some big changes potentially coming in the phone business, and there is at least one way custom integrators can get a piece of the action.

First, the development of the 4G network means that calls now travel on five different frequencies vs. just two. Depending on the carrier, 4G cell signals are carried in the 700/850/1900/1700/2100 MHz bands as part of AWS (T-Mobile and AT&T) and LTE (Verizon and AT&T) networks.

Second, there is speculation Apple may soon enter the telecom market as a service provider. According to Joe Banos, COO at Wilson Electronics, Apple is looking at buying huge bundles of minutes from every carrier at a discounted rate, then turning around and becoming a phone service, getting them into the recurring revenue business.

Apple’s leverage with the carriers, of course, is the iPhone. Calls would be routed agnostically between different carriers’ frequencies. If that happens, having a strong cellular signal would be a necessity since each carrier’s network has areas of weakness or gaps. 

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Wilson Certified Installer (WCI) program debuts at CEDIA Expo 2012. Visit Wilson at Booth 1325
(Psst ... use #cediacepro to get our attention.)

The telecom carriers have been fighting against cell signal boosters for years, not because they disrupt the network, but because they realized these devices will help enable Apple, Google, or other companies potentially bypass them, according to Banos. Now they see the inevitability of the situation and Verizon and others have joined in the development of FCC standards for cellular signal boosters. There is currently a Notice of Proposed Rule Making in the FCC Docket 10-4 on the matter.

Since the NPRM was issued over a year ago, Wilson Electronics has collaborated with cellular carriers in determining the safeguards and specifications required to assure operational integrity of cell sites operating in the vicinity of a cellular signal booster.  The resulting set of network protection protocols were submitted to the FCC on June 8, 2012, in the form of a Docket 10-4 joint filing by Verizon Wireless, T Mobile Wilson Electronics, V-COMM Telecommunications Engineering, and Nextivity, Inc. Sprint as well as AT&T were included the specification vetting process. Though they chose to not participate in the joint filing, they also indicated they would not oppose it.

“It’s amazing. A few years ago the telecom carriers all said, ‘How dare you come on our networks with this,’” says Jonathan Bacon, director of marketing at Wilson. “Now they realize that these booster products are going to be on the market and they’re helping write the specs.”

These are just some reasons why Wilson Electronics, a 13-year-old manufacturer of cell signal boosters based in St. George, Utah, has announced the creation of the Wilson Certified Installer (WCI) Program targeting CE pros. The program will officially launch at the upcoming CEDIA Expo 2012.

The program will include WCI sales and technical training, on-site and online certification and testing, and specific WCI partner benefits that include consumer leads for installations, exclusive products, preferential pricing and dedicated tech support.

In general, cell boosters:

  • Increase cellular sensitivity and power output
  • Significantly extend data range and data speeds
  • Greatly reduce disconnects and dropouts
  • Act as bi-directional signal boosters amplifying signals to from the cell tower
  • Support multiple frequency bandwidths and LTE, HSPA+, CDMA and GSM

Differentiated Product, Lead Generation
Currently, Wilson has two levels of products. The company’s base products are sold direct-to-consumer in places like Best Buy and Wal-Mart, as well as online. It primarily consists of cell boosters for cars and limited one-room boosters, called the Sleek, for the DIY market.

For custom installers, Wilson has a line of professional products for large commercial buildings and large homes. The products include indoor and outdoor directional and omni-directional antennas, robust in-line signal boosters and coax cable.

Review: Wilson Electronics 841262 Cell Phone Repeater

Without getting too technical, the Wilson system has two technical strengths. First, it uses oscillation protection to automatically shut down the booster if there is feedback, which can occur if the antennas are too close to each other. Second, it has proximity detection that auto detects when a cell phone is too close to a cell tower and automatically lowers the power.


  About the Author

Jason Knott is Chief Content Officer for Emerald Expositions Connected Brands. Jason has covered low-voltage electronics as an editor since 1990, serving as editor and publisher of Security Sales & Integration. He joined CE Pro in 2000 and serves as Editor-in-Chief of that brand. He served as chairman of the Security Industry Association’s Education Committee from 2000-2004 and sat on the board of that association from 1998-2002. He is also a former board member of the Alarm Industry Research and Educational Foundation. He has been a member of the CEDIA Business Working Group since 2010. Jason graduated from the University of Southern California. Have a suggestion or a topic you want to read more about? Email Jason at jason.knott@emeraldexpo.com

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