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MCMC: Fines up to RM500,000 for using unauthorised mobile signal boosters and repeaters

The Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) has reported an increase in complaints with regards to interference from the usage of Cellular Booster or Repeaters (CBR). Unauthorised telecommunications equipment can severely affect the quality of cellular networks and wireless broadband service, and violators can be slapped with a hefty fine.

These boosters or repeaters are typically used to increase mobile signal strength from their nearest base station. During the MCO, you’ve probably heard about poor connectivity in rural areas and some residents had taken the initiative to install external antennas and boosters to improve their wireless broadband performance.

According to the MCMC, complaints on CBRs have increased by 73.3% in 2020 with a total of 227 complaints received last year versus 131 complaints reported in 2019. The widespread and unregulated use of such equipment can cause unnecessary interference to the network quality for the surrounding areas.

The possession of such equipment is an offence under the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998 [Act 588] and Communications and Multimedia (Technical Standards) Regulations 2000. Those who are found guilty can be fined not more than RM500,000, jailed for not more than 5 years, or both.

Consumers can only obtain boosters from telcos
According to MCMC’s Guidelines on the Purchase, Usage, and Possession of Cellular Boosters or Repeater dated 1st January 2021, the public is prohibited from purchasing any Cellular Boosters or Repeaters from any unverified source. You could only purchase boosters and repeaters which have been certified by the MCMC or its registered certifying agency from service providers.

This implies that it is illegal to purchase and install your own signal booster and you can only get it legally from telcos. To do so, you must first lodge a complaint with your respective telco that you’re having an issue with signal reception. A booster similar to the one shown below could be provided as a solution if it’s feasible.

The guideline also states that telcos must not provide non-standard cellular boosters or repeaters to the public. If a booster and repeater is technically and commercially possible to address the customer’s indoor coverage issue, they must also ensure that the equipment does not cause any interference to existing cellular and wireless broadband networks.

The guideline also states that the CBRs must be installed by the service provider and they must also inform their relevant Network Facilities Provider (NFP) to register its usage under the Guideline for Deployment and Use of Lower Power Transmitter (SKMM/G/01/12) issued on 13 June 2012.

We’ve reached out to the MCMC for further clarification on the matter including the use of external antennas. In the meantime, you can read the full guideline here.

Are you currently using any signal booster to improve your mobile reception? Is it from your telco or did you install it yourself? Let us know in the comments below.

A version of this article was originally published by SOYACINCAU