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Ofcom to Boost Indoor 2G, 3G and 4G Mobile Cover by Legalising Repeaters

Wednesday, April 5th, 2017 (1:09 pm) - Score 2,808

At present it’s unlawful (unless approved by a Mobile Network Operator) for consumers to use repeaters that boost and retransmit UK mobile signals, which can help indoor coverage but may also cause interference or other adverse effects for nearby customers. Ofcom now proposes to change this.

Under the new plan Ofcom would allow consumers to operate two categories of Mobile Phone Repeaters on a licence-exempt basis, including a) static mobile phone repeaters intended for indoor use; and b) low gain mobile phone repeaters intended for in-vehicle (in-car) use.

The change would of course come attach to some new conditions, such as requirements that the repeaters operate only over the frequency bands of any single licensed network operator at a given time, adjusts its power to the minimum necessary to make a reliable connection and incorporates anti-oscillation measures.

Ofcom are not intending to prescribe the mobile phone technologies that can be used and so manufacturers could choose to build kit for 2G, 3G and / or 4G service as desired. However this proposal does not encompass the use of static wideband repeaters, which remain unlawful.

Ofcom Statement

The effect of our proposals would be that repeaters which meet our requirements would be available for consumers to buy and install lawfully themselves. This relates specifically to static repeaters, intended for in-home use; and ‘low gain’ repeaters, intended for use in cars. The use of wideband repeaters installed by consumers themselves would continue to be unlawful.

A related consultation has been launched and this will be open for feedback until 6th June 2017.

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By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
Leave a Comment
7 Responses
  1. Rich says:

    A massive, massive deal for places like rural hotels with poor coverage. Well done Ofcom.

  2. 3G Infinity says:

    So does that mean each house will have 2 or 3 units, we have O2, EE and Vodafone handsets and poor coverage so that’s 3 separate repeaters?

  3. dave says:

    They should only allow 4G 800MHZ, that way it uses the latest 4G tech and the signal travels far and travels through walls well.

    1. MikeW says:

      You’d think the worst band to transmit indoors would be the one that passes back through the walls to outside. That would cause more interference back outside the property

  4. MikeW says:

    Really interesting idea.

  5. AdamJ says:

    This pretty much scuppers BT’s plans to use a new BT’s Home Hub as a femtocell to boost EE mobile 4G coverage, and charge exorbitantly for it (in relation to the cost of providing the service, certainly one of the reasons for purchasing/merging EE)

    It would have allowed BT to charge ‘twice’ for Data at Mobile per MB pricing, by using a consumer’s BT Home Hub/FTTC backhaul (already paid for by consumers), and mostly/part funded by taxpayers via BDUK

    The idea is to create a much denser network of smaller femtocell nodes to compliment the existing EE tower cells.

    BT won’t be happy about this.

  6. AdamJ says:

    Just to add, there is potential here for operators to class this as ‘Data tethering’ in order to restrict/prevent consumers doing this without additional charge, let’s hope Ofcom address this issue.

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