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COAI calls for ban on illegal sales

COAI raised concern over the menace of ‘illegal sale’ of repeaters and boosters

NEW DELHI, Apr 17 (The CONNECT) - Raising concern over the menace of ‘illegal sale’ of repeaters and boosters, cellular operators have asked the government to ban it

In a letter to DoT Secretary Anshu Prakash, IAS Secretary, COAI director general Lt. Gen Dr. SP Kochhar said Boosters or repeaters, as they are commonly called, have become increasingly installed over the last few years. The equipment works by drawing in available mobile tower signals in low connectivity areas and amplifying and distributing it in small, concentrated locations, such as a building or a cluster of buildings. In the past, boosters have been used by the operators in areas, where mobile towers cannot be installed easily.

Gen Kochhar suggested to DoT to take up the matter with the Home Ministry for directions to State DGPs/CPs/Chief Secretaries to take action under law against the sellers of illegal repeaters – both online and offline - in the country.

As per established norms, Telecom Service Providers (TSPs) install such repeaters after thorough inspections, only after a request is raised or there is a requirement. The TSPs make sure that installing a repeater doesn’t hamper the network coverage for people outside the distribution area and does not interfere with other TSPs allotted spectrum frequency, he said.

The grey market outlets and online ecommerce stores are making illegal low cost repeaters available for anyone to buy and install illegally. The concern is that, such wide band devices draw in network signals to provide connectivity to a particular building or area in an unregulated manner, thereby depleting the network strength in other surrounding areas and results into call drops and depleted network quality, he said and recalled that the telecom industry has voiced its concerns as to how these illegal repeaters have become a major nuisance and are one of the biggest cause for customers facing mobile network issues like call drops and low data speeds, especially in densely populated localities.

Available freely in electronics markets, these repeaters are installed by unauthorized agencies at homes, offices, hostels and guest houses to boost mobile signal strengths. Even landlords and home owners are illegally installing such devices in densely populated areas to attract tenants, thereby adversely impacting mobile network availability in the entire given area, be it 2G, 3G or 4G networks.

As per the specifications of boosters and repeaters  being  sold  online,  these  wide  band  devices  enhance signals across  the 800  MHz, 900  MHz, 1800  MHz, 2100  MHz, 2300MHz  and 2500 MHz licensed spectrum bands altogether, which are assigned by Department of Telecommunications only to the licensed telecom service providers which have been bought by the TSPs by paying hefty sums, COAI said.

Gen Kochhar requested the DoT to take up the issue with Ministry of Commerce & Industry to prohibit import of such illegal boosters/ repeaters in the country with immediate effect.

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