The use of certain mobile phone repeaters is now legal as Ofcom looks to improve cellular coverage across the UK.
Mobile phone repeaters amplify the signal between a mobile phone and an operator’s base station and are commonly used by the networks themselves. However the personal use of such technology has previously been illegal because of the risk of interference with other wireless equipment.
Some of these emit a signal strong enough to take coverage away from mobile masts, causing widespread coverage issues.
Ofcom announced last October that it wanted to relax the rules and will now allow static indoor repeaters and low-gain repeaters for the use in a vehicle. These will have to adhere to technical standards, while ‘wideband’ repeaters will continue to remain illegal unless they are licensed.
“Accessing the mobile network within their own home can be troublesome for some consumers, particularly where they live towards the edge of mobile network coverage,” said Ofcom. “The same can be said of accessing the network from within a vehicle. In both cases, the penetration loss involved can mean that, where the mobile phone signal is weak outdoors, it falls below a usable level once inside.”
The new regulations could will more power to mobile customers in rural areas keen to improve their coverage, while it could also boost in-vehicle cellular connectivity. There will also be a boost in the market for repeaters which meet UK technical standards.
At present, 98 percent of the UK population can receive a 4G signal.
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Steve McCaskill is TechRadar Pro's resident mobile industry expert, covering all aspects of the UK and global news, from operators to service providers and everything in between. He is a former editor of Silicon UK and journalist with over a decade's experience in the technology industry, writing about technology, in particular, telecoms, mobile and sports tech, sports, video games and media.