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Cellular mobile repeaters

Cellular mobile repeaters are radiocommunications devices that retransmit a mobile signal. They are also known as mobile phone repeaters and are used to improve the reliability of mobile services.

You can only operate cellular mobile repeaters in Australia if the repeater is an exempt repeater, or you have written permission from a carrier.

How to get the best reception

Many mobile phone carriers have products to improve your mobile network coverage. These may include cellular mobile repeaters.

Repeaters are not always the best solution for mobile phone coverage issues. If you have concerns about reception, you should contact your mobile phone carrier. They will consider if there are any network issues that may be impacting your coverage. They may also discuss the best product for your needs.

For the best mobile reception in a vehicle, especially in rural areas, carriers recommend hands-free car kits with external vehicle-mounted high-gain antennas.

Authorised use of repeaters

You can only operate a cellular mobile repeater in Australia if the ACMA has declared your carrier’s repeater to be an exempt repeater or if you have written permission from a carrier. This authorisation is known as the carrier giving a ‘third-party agreement’ to operate the device under their radiocommunications licence.

Carriers will only give a third-party agreement if the cellular mobile repeater meets the rules for operating radiocommunications devices in Australia.

Operating cellular mobile repeaters (other than exempt repeaters) without carrier permission is illegal because they can interfere with mobile networks. Illegal use of cellular mobile repeaters carries civil penalties, which are outlined in the Act.

The range of cellular mobile repeaters that carriers will authorise is small, compared to the number of products on the market. Be wary of online sellers, as their products may not be legitimate and check with your mobile phone carrier before buying if you are unsure.

Exempt repeaters

The ACMA has introduced the Radiocommunications Equipment (General) Rules 2021 (the General Equipment Rules), which establishes provisions for exempt repeaters.

An exempt repeater is a cellular mobile repeater that we have declared to be exempt after assessing an application from a carrier. This means you can use it legally.

The register of exempt repeaters will be available on our website once applications are approved.

The register includes the brand name, model number and an image of the exempt repeater, the carrier that requested the exemption and the date we declared it to be exempt.

If a cellular mobile repeater is listed on the exempt repeater register and was provided to you by a carrier, it should be suitable to use.

If you have questions about the suitability of your cellular mobile repeater, speak to your carrier.

The difference between repeaters and boosters

Sometimes the terms ‘cellular mobile repeater’ and ‘mobile phone booster’ are used interchangeably. However, they are different devices.

Cellular mobile repeaters: communicate with multiple handsets using radiofrequency energy.

Mobile phone boosters: use a wired connection to a single mobile handset.

Mobile phone boosters are prohibited items. It is illegal to own, use or supply a mobile phone booster in Australia.

More information

For more information on how to improve your mobile phone coverage, contact your mobile phone carrier.

For details about the rules regarding mobile phone repeaters or boosters, contact our Customer Service Centre on 1300 850 115 or info@acma.gov.au.

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