Mobile signal boosters amplify the frequency signal of network carriers to provide strength to a weak signal. These devices help wireless network providers to improve coverage in areas where there is no signal or very poor signal due to the presence of numerous dead spots. Simply put, mobile signal boosters are used to amplify network reception in zones with weak signals. Telecom operators also use these types of equipment to improve the network reception in areas where placing a dedicated network tower is difficult. However, third-party boosters and repeaters that do not comply can cause severe interference in the licensed frequency bands assigned to telecom providers, which can eventually impact the overall quality of mobile services.
How do mobile signal boosters work?
Mobile Signal boosters, also known as amplifiers or repeaters, consist of three main parts– exterior antenna, amplifier and interior antenna. These components create a wireless system that helps in enhancing cellular reception. These devices are usually a repeater system that allows the amplifier to add gain or power to the reception in multiple directions. The outside antenna can both receive and transmit signals to a cellular tower with enhanced power and sensitivity. These devices are connected with a coaxial cable that can even cause transmission loss. After amplification, the signal is re-broadcasted to the area with no reception or weak signal.
Availability of 4G signal boosters in India
4G mobile signal boosters are available on all major e-commerce platforms, including Amazon and Flipkart. Users can purchase these devices at affordable prices that claim to offer wide-area coverage, easy installation and network support for the 4G network with data services and VoLTE connectivity. However, popular brands with expertise in network equipment such as Huawei and Netgear don’t have any such products listed on the e-commerce platforms.
Moreover, in 2019, the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) asked e-commerce portals to stop selling network signal boosters and repeaters as the sale of such devices is illegal and may attract fine and imprisonment. The regulator cited that these devices interfere with mobile signals leading to call drops and slower data speeds.
Are 4G signal boosters illegal in India?
4G signal boosters are illegal in India as these instruments use a spectrum for which they haven’t paid. Using these devices can cause network interference in the area and can also cause service deterioration for other customers in the vicinity. Moreover, most of these signal boosters available on e-tailer platforms are China-made and can cause signal issues for others. These devices can delay communication services, including emergency calls in the community, when designed or installed improperly.
According to the Indian Wireless Telegraph Act, the sale, purchase or possession of mobile signal boosters is illegal and a punishable offence. As per the law, the purchaser needs to obtain a ‘frequency authorisation/agreement in principle letter’ from the DoT before buying any such equipment in the licenced bands. Moreover, buyers will also need a wireless operating licence after submitting the required documents and spectrum charges.