Home / Industry / Telecom /  Telcos demand jail for illegal booster sellers

NEW DELHI : Telecom operators have asked the government to make illegal sale of signal boosters and repeaters on e-commerce platforms a cognizable offence with jail term and fine to check their unregulated use.

At a recent meeting with telecom department officials, executives of telcos raised their concerns in this respect. Boosters or repeaters that are allowed to be put up solely by telcos for improving signals in poor connectivity zones in urban areas, are available for sale in the grey market and through some e-commerce platforms, said industry executives.

“The sale of such illegal repeaters should be banned with immediate effect. Their use should be treated as a punishable offence with adequate jail terms or a fine, or both," said S.P. Kochhar, director general of Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI), which represents major carriers Reliance Jio, Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea.

The government is learnt to be considering the proposal, as it sought details from telcos before taking it forward.

“Illegal use of signal boosters/repeaters impairs customer experience as it leads to network issues such as call drops and low data speeds, especially in heavily populated localities. Such devices deplete the network strength of telcos providing coverage in the area. This prevents licensed operators from providing uninterrupted telecom services or in even launching new services," he added.

The industry wants the telecom department to file first information reports (FIRs) against individuals installing these illegal signal repeaters in buildings. According to COAI, in Delhi NCR alone, over 8,000 cells (or 30% cell sites) face high interference from illegal repeaters across all bands and technologies, leading to increase in call drops and blocked calls.

Boosters or repeaters fall under the definition of “Wireless Telegraphy Apparatus" and “Wireless Transmitter" under Indian Wireless Telegraph Act, 1933. Their possession and sale without requisite permissions violates provisions in the Act and is a punishable offence.

Telcos say unregulated installations cause signal interference, call drops and pose high risk to people in the close vicinity of such boosters as they could malfunction since they used cheap and recycled components that have short life spans. The debt-laden industry is facing mammoth financial losses due to this, they said.

“Mobile operators, who are making sizeable investments in network expansions, are grappling with the challenge of locating and shutting down these repeaters," Kochhar added.

Queries emailed to Reliance Jio, Airtel, Vodafone Idea and Amazon remained unanswered till Wednesday evening. A Flipkart spokesperson said that platform strictly adheres to all the essential guidelines. “As a marketplace, we are committed to ensuring that all sellers on the platform comply with the standards they must meet as per law. We continue to strengthen our control protocols to ensure that marketplace sellers adhere to the strict guidelines per applicable laws so that no sale of prohibited or restricted products happens through the platform," a Flipkart spokesperson said.

Catch all the Industry News, Banking News and Updates on Live Mint. Download The Mint News App to get Daily Market Updates.
More Less
Recommended For You
Get alerts on WhatsApp
Set Preferences My ReadsWatchlistFeedbackRedeem a Gift CardLogout