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Telcos ask online marketplaces to stop selling mobile signal boosters

PW Bureau

Telecom companies said the sale of such devices are illegal and may attract fine and imprisonment under the Wireless Telegraph Act of 1933 Kolkata: Telecom companies have urged big online marketplaces in India, like Amazon, Flipkart, ShopClues, Snapdeal and Rediff.com, to bring an end to the sale of mobile signal boosters and repeaters on their platforms. They said the sale of such devices are illegal and may attract fine and imprisonment under the Wireless Telegraph Act of 1933. The Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) has also said, “Usage of such wireless telegraphy apparatus by end-customers creates severe interference in the licensed frequency bands assigned to telcos, impacting the overall quality of (mobile) services.”

Why is it illegal to sell mobile signal boosters?

The sale of such devices is illegal because boosters use spectrum that has not been paid for. Its usage causes interference in the area and could also lead to a deterioration in services for other customers in the vicinity. According to COAI, the specifications of boosters and repeaters sold on these platforms state that these devices enhance signals across the 800 MHz, 900 MHz, 1800 MHz, 2100 MHz and 2300 MHz licensed spectrum bands, assigned to telecom providers. “It is pertinent to note that the possession and sale of such equipment, without obtaining requisite permissions under the Wireless Telegraph Act and rules framed thereunder, constitutes violation of the provisions and is a punishable offence under Section 6 of the Act,” Rajan Mathews, director general of COAI, said in letters to the online marketplaces. Mathews has also cited a letter from the department of telecommunications of May 10, 2016 that had conveyed to the online/e-commerce companies that under Indian Wireless Telegraphy (Possession) Rules, 1965, “no person/dealer shall sell or hire a wireless set/equipment to any person, unless they hold a valid dealer possession licence (DPL).”