Are Mobile Boosters Legal in Australia?
In Australia mobile phone boosters are banned devices and not allowed to be operated on any mobile network. The government authority for radio communications the ACMA, have prohibited the users from operating or possessing a mobile phone booster. It is also illegal to sell or supply boosters.
Why are they banned?
Australian carriers have found mobile phone boosters can interfere with the normal functions of the mobile network. Although a booster may appear to be helping with your signal, it’s what you don’t see happening on the network side that has caused concerns from carriers.
One of the main issues with boosters is they they have an inability to monitor the base station they are connected to in real time and adjust their power levels accordingly. When a base station is oversaturated by a booster, it will lower it’s transmission levels causing users on the signal outer edge to loose mobile signal. The base stations coverage area is greatly reduced and hundreds of customers will be affected.
Can I be fined for having a Mobile Phone Booster?
Yes, under the Telecommunications (Prohibition of Mobile Phone Boosters) Declaration 2011 anyone in possession or found using a booster can be fined up to $220,000.
How do the carriers or the authorities track down booster users?
There are several ways that you can be tracked down for using a mobile booster. The most common way is when your booster is causing interference to a nearby tower. The carrier will be alerted by issues with the tower and investigate the cause. They can then pin point the location of the device causing the issue.
Why are booster available on the internet for sale in Australia?
Many of the companies selling boosters online appear to be Australian companies but they are in fact overseas businesses selling and shipping from outside the country. They will often have a virtual address and phone number in Australia on their website, sometimes with the word Australia in their website address.
They have a ‘.com’ domain, instead of a ‘.com.au’ domain which is only available to registered Australian businesses. These overseas business often have false legal information about the use of boosters in Australia, stating they are legal or have permission to sell them from the carriers.
Do many people get authorisation to use a Repeater?
authorisation is generally only granted to suppliers of commercial grade equipment for corporate use. The setup plan and equipment is submitted to the carrier by a radio engineer for consideration. An exception to this rule is the Cel-Fi Smart Repeater, which comes with an authorisation letter from the carrier and is the only widely approved consumer repeater in Australia.
Why do I need authorisation to install a Mobile Phone Repeater?
Non commercial repeaters are often not sophisticated enough to compliment the carriers existing mobile network. They are sometimes very primitive in design, resulting in noise and feedback being transmitted back into the network. If installed incorrectly they can cause severe interference with nearby base stations.
Can I be sent to prison for having a Mobile Phone Repeater?
Yes, under the Radiocommunications Act 1992 if you possess a mobile phone repeater with the intention of operating it, or are found operating it without permission then you can be imprisoned for two years for each offence. A body corporate may receive a penalty of up to $255,000. Other penalties may also apply.
How do the carriers or the authorities track down repeater installations?
There are several ways that you can be tracked down for using a mobile repeater. Most repeaters are tracked down due to them being incorrectly setup. If not setup correctly they can interfere and put feedback into the network.
Why are repeaters available on the internet for sale in Australia?
Repeaters can be imported into Australia for the sole purpose of exporting. If a company is selling the repeater to an overseas customer it is ok to list on an Australian website. They cannot however sell the device in Australia.
Recent changes to Legislation and Introduction of Smart Repeaters
In 2013 legislation to restrict the sale of mobile phone repeaters was introduced and facilitate the supply of carrier approved repeaters.
Telstra was the first to provide approval of the Cel-Fi Smart Repeater with Optus recently following. The distributor of Cel-Fi in Australia is Powertec Telecommunications who are legally required to keep records and maintain a database of all smart repeaters sold.
Cel-Fi Smart Repeater is the only Smart Repeater in existence and the only legal consumer repeater sold on the internet. No other consumer repeater has obtained carrier approval in Australia.
ComLaw – Radiocommunications Regulations 1993
Mobile Network Guide – Australia’s Guide to the Mobile Networks