Ofcom issues a call for input on the use and deployment of mobile coverage enhancers

Set against a backdrop of increasing demand for wireless access, services and content and faced with increased use of metallic building materials that interfere with mobile signals, Ofcom has requested stakeholders provide it with their views on the installation and use of mobile coverage enhancers/repeater devices by end users to enhance mobile coverage/signals in the UK.

In issuing the call for inputs, Ofcom is seeking to establish whether end user repeaters/enhancers have the necessary characteristics, or alternatively could be used in a specified manner, to provide enhanced coverage solutions for consumers and businesses without causing interference or having adverse effects on mobile networks and/or other mobile users. At present, it is an offence under the Wireless Telegraphy Act (WTA) to establish or use wireless telegraphy stations or install or use wireless telegraphy apparatus without a licence, unless an exemption applies. Failure to comply with the relevant requirements of the WTA can result in the issuance of a fine and/or the prospect of facing criminal liability.

The ability to enable employees to communicate and to access data while on the move is increasingly important to organisations, and not just when they are away from the organisation’s site or premises. Increasingly, organisations are finding that their employees are unable to use their mobile devices due to a lack of coverage and signal strength at their own premises. There are a number of different factors that can contribute to such a situation, including the size and location of a site/building, but also the materials that have been used at the site (including an increased use of metallic structures and components). A seemingly simple solution to this problem is to install a mobile signal enhancer/repeater. However, such an approach is not currently as straightforward as it may at first appear and can be fraught with unsuspected legal consequences and liabilities…

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