We have all been through that moment of frustration when we’re on an important phone call and the call just drops. You must wonder why you suddenly had no signals on your phone despite there being signal towers everywhere around you in the city. There can be several reasons for this, which you are unaware of, including the use of signal boosters which heavily affect your signal strength.
A signal booster is essentially a device that amplifies the mobile phone signal strength within its vicinity. It is used in areas where there is weak or inconsistent signal strength.
Illegal mobile signal repeaters have become a major nuisance and are one of the biggest reasons for customers facing network issues like call drops and low data speeds. These illegal repeaters are installed by individuals/establishments at homes/offices/PG/Guesthouses to boost mobile signals. This illegal equipment interferes with all mobile networks, impacts signal quality and degrades network experience in the entire area.
Mobile operators invest heavily in acquisition of spectrum & network rollout to enhance customer experience however these illegal boosters cause interference with the signals from mobile networks.

What makes signal boosters illegal?
These signal boosters, which are not registered, are categorized as illegal because they use a spectrum they haven’t paid for. It interferes with the airwaves making it capable of distorting mobile signals for other customers in the vicinity of the booster. They also make mobile handsets transmit higher power, to manage connectivity with the site leading to even higher battery consumption and poor network.
The illegal use of such devices leads to the degradation of telecom services instead of solving signal issues. In simple words, using mobile signal boosters is like having illegal electricity or water supply connection from the main supply, which leads to improper distribution for others who are paying for the service.

What does the law say?
It is imperative to emphasize that the import, sale and use of GSM boosters is strictly prohibited, and legal action can be taken against the violators by the PTA.
Specifically, as per Section-31, Sub-Section (2) of the Act passed by PTA: ‘the unauthorized use of the radio frequency spectrum shall be punishable with imprisonment which may extend to [three] years, or with fine which may extend to ten million rupees, or with both.’ The same law applies to sellers and buyers of the boosters as well.
Need for stricter action
Apart from hefty fines on these devices’ users and sellers, there is a need for a public awareness campaign to address the situation. The supply of these devices needs to be cut from the root and the authorities have to work in tandem with the mobile operators and other stakeholders to take a more proactive approach towards this, ensuring reliable, consistent mobile network coverage for millions.

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