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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.

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 you have written permission from a mobile phone carrier. This written permission is known as a ‘third-party authorisation‘ and it entitles you to operate the repeater device under the mobile phone carrier’s radiocommunications licence.

Mobile phone carriers will only give you this permission if the cellular mobile repeater meets the rules for operating radiocommunications devices in Australia. This is because unauthorised cellular mobile repeaters can cause serious interference to mobile networks. It is illegal to operate a repeater that uses the radiofrequency spectrum licensed to a mobile phone carrier without their written permission. Illegal use of cellular mobile repeaters carries civil penalties, which are outlined in the Radiocommunications Act 1992.

The range of cellular mobile repeaters that mobile phone 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. 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 establish provisions for ‘exempt’ repeaters.

The ACMA will only declare a cellular mobile repeater to be exempt after assessing an application from a mobile phone carrier.

If the ACMA declares a repeater to be exempt, this means that you do not have to present your supplier with the written authorisation from your mobile phone carrier before you can be supplied with the repeater. The exemption declaration makes it easier for consumers to buy an authorised repeater to improve their mobile coverage.

Even though we may have declared a specific model of repeater to be exempt, you still need your mobile phone carrier’s written permission to use it on their network. This will be provided, together with the repeater, at the time it is supplied to you. Look on the device warranty card or other printed material enclosed in the repeater’s packaging, for this written permission.

Use the following list of exempt repeaters to help you to easily identify the models of repeater devices that the mobile phone carriers authorise for use.

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

If a cellular mobile repeater is on the list of exempt repeaters and was provided to you by a mobile phone carrier or a legitimate Australian-based distributor, it should be suitable to use.

Mobile phone carriers supply authorised repeaters directly to their customers, but there are also independent Australian distributors of exempt authorised repeaters. These legitimate Australian distributors have local representatives and physical offices in Australia. A legitimate Australian distributor will also offer professional installation of the repeater if this is necessary. Check that the business supplying you with the repeater can also supply the written permission on the mobile phone carrier’s behalf.

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