Repeaters / Boosters / Enhancers
Installation or use of repeater devices (as with any radio equipment) is a criminal offence unless two conditions are satisfied:
- That the equipment is CE marked, indicating that the manufacturer has declared it complies with all relevant EU regulatory requirements, including the Radio equipment and Telecommunications Terminal Equipment (R&TTE) Directive;
- That the use of the equipment is specifically authorised in the UK, either via a licence or by regulations made by Ofcom to exempt the use from licensing.
The position is that Ofcom has not made regulations exempting the use of any cellular repeater devices and so their unlicensed use remains illegal in the UK. Also, it is a criminal offence to place on the market or use non compliant R&TTE apparatus.
We are aware of the claims of some companies that, in their opinion, use of their apparatus is unlikely to involve undue interference, that their apparatus is R&TTE compliant and even that it should somehow qualify for exemption from licensing. However, as noted above, no such exemption has been made, for the reason that we have evidence that repeaters are likely to cause interference. We have investigated several instances where serious interference has resulted from the illegal use of repeaters.
Only the mobile network operators (MNOs) are licensed to use equipment that transmits in the cellular frequency bands. The cumulative effect of unplanned emitters in the spectrum would be to increase interference across systems and degrade the quality of network performance. We have agreed variations to the MNOs licences to facilitate the deployment of the femtocells and smart repeaters technologies that some operators are, or will shortly be, offering to their customers.
These are effectively low-power base stations that are directly controlled by the networks via wired or radio connections. An essential difference between these and conventional repeaters is that MNOs remain responsible to see that devices meet the technical requirements of their licences (under which authority they are operated), operate only in their own frequency range and do not interfere with other customers or systems in adjacent spectrum.