WMO and telco operators target illegal mobile signal boosters

29 May 2024

The Wireless Monitoring Organisation (WMO) and telecom operators conducted a raid in the Grant Road area of Mumbai, targeting illegal mobile signal boosters and antennas.

Led by Engineer P D Shinde from WMS (DoT), the raid resulted in the seizure of eight antennas and five network boosters from Gomtesh Electronics on Procter Road (East). Illegal boosters were also discovered and dismantled at various locations, including Mahadev Forex, Sashikrupa Building, Simplex Building, Gupta Transport, Shri Ishwar Sadan, Crescent Building, and Lucas Asger Manzil. Notices were issued on the spot by WMO to those found operating the illegal devices.

Telecom operators have repeatedly raised concerns about the negative impact of such devices on mobile network quality. WMO says these illegal boosters cause severe interference, leading to issues like call drops and low data speeds. The Indian Telegraph Act, 1885, and the Indian Wireless Telegraphy Act, 1943, deem the use of wideband signal boosters illegal, warranting heavy penalties.

"Using mobile signal boosters is akin to having an illegal electricity or water supply connection," said the WMO. "Telecom operators invest heavily in acquiring spectrum for better customer experience, but the quality of services takes a significant hit because of these boosters."

The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has issued multiple warnings to e-commerce platforms to cease the sale of these illegal items. Under the Telecommunications Act, 2023, unauthorised possession of radio equipment can result in imprisonment for up to three years, fines of up to fifty lakh rupees, or both. This includes possessing or using unauthorised telecommunication equipment, tampering with identifiers, and obtaining identifiers through fraudulent means.