The Department of Telecom (DoT) has written to the customs department, raising the issue of non-regulatory sales of “mobile signal boosters” as well as walkie-talkies on some ecommerce sites. These equipment require a licence to import, but no such approval has been sought for such sales. Thus, DoT has sought for implementation of import rules to curb these practices, according to reports.
The mobile signal booster and walkie-talkie sets come under the category of transmission apparatus incorporating reception apparatus, not permitted to be imported without a licence.
The letter, written by the telecom department to the chief commissioner of customs and the chairman of the central board of indirect taxes and customs (CBIC) that also cited an Intelligence Bureau (IB) report on the same matter, stated that certain models of walkie-talkie sets are available for sale on some ecommerce platforms without any compliance with the regulatory requirements.
“The department is continuing to take appropriate action in this regard in cases of violation. But, to restrict the inflow of such unauthorised wireless equipment including mobile signal booster/repeater in the country, it is requested to strictly enforce the provisions enshrined in the import policy of DGFT [Directorate General of Foreign Trade] in this regard,” the letter read.
A cell phone signal booster is also known as an amplifier or a repeater. It helps in increasing cellular reception in their vicinity where call drops, poor call quality and lower internet speed are quite common. There are two major types of network boosters – home boosters that can connect multiple devices from a central area with the house, and vehicle boosters that work within a car, truck, etc. It is noteworthy that the device only amplifies the network if there is a connection, however weak.
DoT alleges that unauthorised mobile signal repeaters and walkie-talkies can help “antisocial elements set up illegal communication infrastructure”. Thus, the telecom department has also served notice to ecommerce firms to refrain from selling or facilitating the selling of unauthorised wireless equipment including signal repeaters/boosters.
“Many platforms have complied,” DoT stated. “However, such unauthorised wireless equipment including mobile signal repeaters/boosters are still available for sale on some of the ecommerce platforms and in the grey market.”
In February, the wireless technology monitoring group of the DoT brought down 140 illegal mobile signal boosters in several parts of Delhi. Last year, DoT officials seized and removed around 400 illegal mobile signals boosters.