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Cellular operators ask e-tailers to stop sale of telecom signal boosters

Megha Manchanda/New Delhi 14 Mar 19 | 12:42 AM

The Cellular Operators’ Assoc­iation of India (COAI) has asked online retailers, including Flipk­art and Rediff, to stop selling mobile signal boosters on their platforms. This is because sale of such devi­ces are illegal and may attract fine and imprisonment. Moreover, these instruments interfere with mobile signals leading to call drops and sluggish data speeds.

The association has said these boosters fall under the category of wireless devices under the Indian Wireless Telegraph Act 1933, which prohibits possession of such apparatus without a licence. It said that illegal possession or sale of such equipment is a punishable offence under the Act. The penalty for a first time offender is a petty amount of Rs 100, while a repeat offender invites a fine of Rs 250.

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Possession of a wireless transmitter, which is in contravention with the provisions of Section 3 of the Act, will be punished with imprisonment, which may ext­end to three years or fine which may extend to Rs 1,000, or both.

“Possession and sale of such equipment, without obtaining requisite permission under the Act and Rules framed there under, constitutes violation of the provisions of the Act and is a punishable offence," the COAI letter said. The Department of Telecommunications, in a May 2015 letter to e-commerce companies, had said that no person/entity can sell these instruments without a valid dealer possession licence, to which the online retailers had said they were intermediaries and did not require such a licence.

COAI has said that despite DOT’s order, the companies continue to sell these mobile signal boosters on their platform. It said that such instruments create severe interference in the frequency bands and disturb the overall quality of services.The telecom operators’ lobby asked online retail portals  to “immediately" stop sale of such devices.

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