Photo: Mint
Photo: Mint

COAI asks e-commerce firms to stop sale of illegal network boosters

  • Telcos lobby group says that under the Indian Wireless Telegraph Act possession and sale of mobile signal boosters without a licence from the DoT is a punishable offence
  • COAI also says such equipment cause network interference and impact quality of service to end consumers

NEW DELHI : The Cellular Operators Association of India has written to major e-commerce firms such as Amazon, Flipkart and Snapdeal asking them to immediately stop sale of mobile signal boosters as it is illegal to sell them without a licence from the government and also as these equipment cause network interference and impact quality of service to end consumers.

In separate letters to the e-commerce platforms dated 12 March, the telcos lobby group has argued that under the Indian Wireless Telegraph Act, 1933, possession and sale of such equipment without a licence from the department of telecommunications (DoT) is a punishable offence.

“Despite clear provisions of law and specific directions from DoT prohibiting possession and sale of such equipment operating in licensed spectrum bands without obtaining requisite permission from DoT, your platform continues to sell such boosters/repeaters," COAI said in the letters.

Mint has seen a copy of the letters.

Such equipment are available on almost all e-commerce platforms at prices upwards of 1,500 and are used mostly in areas of high-density population to boost signals thereby leading to more pressure on already congested mobile networks.

“You are hereby called upon to immediately cease and desist from selling mobile signal boosters/repeaters on your website/platform," COAI said.

This letter comes two months after the telecom minister Manoj Sinha in a written reply to a query in Lok Sabha on 2 January said that e-commerce companies which were found to be dealing with ‘unauthorised’ wireless equipment, including boosters, had been directed to ensure compliance with statutory norm.

“A total of 101 notices have been issued to entities or individual users of unauthorized boosters and 63 such boosters have been confiscated and deactivated," Sinha had informed the house. No information regarding the purchase of signal boosters of Chinese make has been received by the DoT, he had then said.

As per law, in case of a wireless equipment, the purchaser needs to obtain a ‘frequency authorisation/agreement in principle letter’ from DoT before purchasing any equipment in the licenced bands, and subsequently wireless operating licence for the same after submitting required documents and spectrum charges.

Moreover, in case a wireless apparatus is required to be imported from abroad, the importing entity needs an import licence, as required under the customs rules, from regional licensing offices of the telecom ministry after submitting necessary fees and documents.

Close