Crack down on mobile phone repeaters | ACMA

Crack down on mobile phone repeaters

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The Australian Communications and Media Authority and NSW Fair Trading have joined forces to warn consumers about the use of unlicensed mobile phone repeaters.

Unlicensed mobile phone repeaters can cause interference to mobile phone networks, including emergency call services.

‘Australian consumers face dangers in purchasing unlicensed mobile phone repeaters online, and need to be aware of the activities of unscrupulous internet based suppliers,’ said ACMA Chairman, Chris Chapman.

A repeater is a fixed transmitting device that may be used in mobile networks. It is designed to regenerate or replicate a mobile signal. Mobile carriers regularly use repeaters as part of their ordinary network management. However, when used without a carrier's permission, repeaters have the capacity to cause substantial interference to the cellular network and may have an impact on mobile services, including access to emergency call services.

On 16 April 2015 NSW Fair Trading served a cease and desist order on the largest internet supplier of repeaters, Mobile Repeaters Australia (MRA).

‘Traders like MRA are keeping consumers in the dark and misinformed about the necessary licensing requirements for using mobile repeater devices,’ said NSW Fair Trading Commissioner Rod Stowe.

‘Consumers need to be aware of the dangers of using these poorly made and non-compliant devices. By selling these second-rate mobile phone repeaters, traders are putting at risk the whole community for the sake of their own financial gain.’ 

‘Contrary to the misinformation spread by some overseas-based internet traders, mobile phone repeaters cannot be used in Australia without written authorisation from your carrier,’ said ACMA Chairman, Chris Chapman.

Sale of these repeaters by MRA exposes Australian consumers to the risk of being fined or prosecuted by ACMA. Further, consumers may suffer considerable financial detriment in purchasing a repeater which cannot be used legally for its intended purpose. 

To improve mobile phone reception at your home, or office, the ACMA recommends that you speak with your carrier. A number of providers have products available that can be legally used to improve mobile network coverage.

An infographic about reception is available here.

For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact:

ACMA Emma Rossi, (02) 9334 7719, 0434 652 063 or media@acma.gov.au.
NSWFT Dom Costello, 02) 9372 7829, 0477 715 320 or dom.costello@finance.nsw.gov.au

Media release 24/2015 - 4 May

Backgrounder

A mobile phone repeater operates within spectrum licensed to telecommunications carriers Telstra, Optus and Vodafone. To lawfully operate a repeater, mobile customers must have written permission from their carrier under a third party arrangement

The ACMA is aware that certain overseas-based internet traders (often appearing to be located in Australia) have been informing consumers that anyone in Australia can use repeaters 'legally'. This is not correct. Only the holder of an applicable spectrum or apparatus licence is permitted to use or authorise the use of repeaters.

It is an offence under the Radiocommunicatins Act 1992 to operate an unlicensed radiocommunications device, or possess this device for the purpose of operation. A person found guilty of this offence may be imprisoned for two years for each offence. A body corporate may receive a penalty of up to $255,000 (1,500 penalty units) per offence (sections 46 and 47 of the Act). Other penalties may apply, such as the interference offence provisions at Part 4.2 of the Act.

 

Last updated: 10 October 2016