Mobile phone, or cell phone, repeaters (also known as boosters, enhancers or amplifiers) are marketed as a technology to improve mobile network coverage.
Mobile repeaters are classed as radio apparatus and their use in the UK is regulated by the Wireless Telegraphy Act 2006. It is unlawful to install or use this type of radio apparatus unless:
- that is done under and in accordance with a specific wireless telegraphy licence granted by Ofcom; or
- Ofcom has made regulations exempting the installation or use from the requirement for a licence.
Ofcom has not granted any licences for the installation or use of repeaters nor made any exemption regulations. The unlicensed installation and use of a repeater would put the user at risk of prosecution under the 2006 Act. If found guilty users can face a fine of up to £5,000 and up to a year in prison.
Some advertisers of repeaters may claim that their products are authorised for use in the UK.
All radio apparatus placed on the market or put into service in the UK must meet the requirements of the Radio Equipment and Telecommunications Equipment Regulations 2000.
Femtocells and smart repeaters
Femtocells are small base station transmitters that may be installed by a user and connect to the host mobile operator network via a fixed broadband connection. So-called “Smart Repeaters” are controlled by the mobile network via its transmission spectrum without a fixed physical connection. Some mobile network operators are beginning to offer services using these devices which offer improved in-building coverage and data rates.
Although devices may be installed in user premises, a key feature is that they are monitored and controlled by the host network to ensure they operate only within the terms and conditions of the network operators’ licences under which they are authorised. Other types of stand-alone repeater which are not covered by the network licence nor exempted from licensing are not authorised.