Are mobile signal boosters legal?

As we’ve grown more reliant on mobile signal in the workplace, the rules and regulations have changed frequently and left many confused. Are mobile signal boosters legal? How can you tell if yours is? Get answers here.

These days, poor mobile coverage inside big buildings is pretty commonplace.
The reason? It’s usually a combination of location and modern building materials, which are rather good at blocking signal.
Are mobile signal boosters legal?
The fact that it’s not an unusual phenomenon is hardly a consolation though. In the twenty-first century, we’re getting more and more reliant on strong mobile signal; not just for socialising and browsing to relax, but for work too.
And the reality is that poor mobile signal is enough to drive clients and employees out of your workspace.
Historically, employers and building owners have turned to signal boosters to solve their problem, but many have failed to ask an important question before doing so: are mobile signal boosters legal?
The answer's not great news for most who've bought signal boosters (or "repeaters") in the past.
See, the majority of mobile signal boosters you see for sale in the UK are illegal to use.

What are the rules?

In April 2018, UK communications regulator Ofcom enforced new regulations called the Wireless Telegraphy (Mobile Repeater) (Exemption) Regulations 2018. These rules allow you to use specific mobile signal repeaters without having to get a licence.
Ofcom says:

"Unless the apparatus and its installation and use complies with regulations made by Ofcom exempting it from the requirement for a licence… the unlicensed installation and use of a repeater would put the user at risk of prosecution under the 2006 [Wireless Telegraphy] Act."

Ofcom (UK Communications Regulator)
There are now just two types of signal repeaters that can be used without a licence:
  • Static mobile phone repeaters for indoor use
  • And low-gain mobile phone repeaters for in-vehicle use
The law is also now clear that signal boosters must only amplify the signal from one mobile network at a time, which means that “wideband” boosters are not a legal option.

A hefty fine and prison time

Understandably, many don’t realise they’ve bought illegal products in the past; mostly because the people who sell them pretend that they’re not illegal. But the consequences for having illegal signal boosters are pretty serious.
According to Ofcom:

"The unlicensed use of mobile repeaters could result in a fine of up to £5,000 and up to a year in prison."

Ofcom (UK Communications Regulator)
Oops.
If you're one of the unlucky ones who bought a repeater kit without asking "are mobile signal boosters legal?" first, and it turns out your one's illegal, you won’t receive any judgement here.
We don’t work for Ofcom. We’re not tell-tales either. Actually, we'd like to help you get back on the right side of the law and keep that mobile signal coming.

So how do you tell if your current solution is legal or not?!

To start with, if you had a mobile signal booster installed in your building prior to April 2018, chances are it was an illegal job.
It might help to know that if a signal booster is being sold as being "multi-network" then it is illegal to use in the UK.
That's simply because they aren't under the control of the UK’s mobile operators who require that each booster is restricted to a single network. This makes the majority of boosters being sold online illegal to use.
Unfortunately, there are still sellers out there making bogus claims about legality and even falsely displaying a PC Pro logo on their websites. Their kits won’t have a CE mark (which you should always look for), and they often have a Yagi antenna or a long coaxial lead.
So if you see any of those present, alarm bells should ring.
The reality is that there still aren’t many providers that can give you a legal solution.
If you just recognised one of the tell-tale signs above and now you’ve got a sweat on, or you suspect you’ve bought a different dodgy kit, you’ll want to rectify the problem ASAP.
Thankfully, there’s an easy way to do that.

So are mobile signal boosters legal?!

Yes! But currently, it’s only the boosters made by one manufacturer that are licence exempt.
That company is called Nextivity.
Their "Cel-Fi" products boost signals by as much as 1000 times, but only over limited distances to avoid interference. They qualify each channel individually too, so that results are focused, and the infrastructure behind the products is all network safe.
Cel-Fi boosters are classed as static mobile phone repeaters for indoor use and are ideal for office buildings with poor signal for many reasons:
  • They’re 100% legal to use
  • They’re unconditionally network safe
  • They’re accepted by UK regulators
  • They provide high quality signal in areas where coverage is poor or non-existent
  • They’re compatible with every mobile network

What should you do with this information?

If you need to improve mobile signal in your building – or maintain better signal but switch to a legal option - Cel-Fi is the way to go.
Boosh Signal Solutions are a leading installer of Nextivity Cel-Fi technology and have been officially recognised as such with Certified Professional status.
Boosh Signal Solutions
Cel-Fi Certified
The products we supply all comply with Ofcom licensing laws. They ensure complete coverage for your building, and they cost less than you’d imagine.
If you’d like to have a conversation about how we can help improve the signal in your building, book a discovery call with one of our experts or give us a call on 0203 8237 365.

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