In the UK, Ofcom is responsible for, among other things, authorising and moderating use of radio spectrum. This is done through the granting of licences under the Wireless Telegraphy Act 2006 or by making regulations exempting the use of particular equipment from the need to obtain such a licence. As part of their responsibilities regulating radio spectrum, Ofcom is also responsible for regulating mobile devices and their use of wireless frequencies, which although always improving in quality, still offer significant areas for improvement.
In 2018, Ofcom issued a decision allowing people to install and use certain mobile repeaters (a device used to amplify a mobile signal) to increase mobile service indoors and within motor vehicles without the need for a licence. This was achieved through the implementation of the Wireless Telegraphy (Mobile Repeater) (Exemption) Regulations 2018.
Since then, Ofcom have continued to review the progress and successes of this decision and in November 2021 launched a consultation on their decision to extend the permitted range of mobile phone repeater devices that can be installed without a licence. After receiving positive feedback, Ofcom’s decision to extend the range was finalised and in March 2022 an order to implement their policies through the creation of the Wireless Telegraphy (Mobile Repeater) (Exemption) Regulations 2022 (the “Regulations”) was made.
Wireless Telegraphy (Mobile Repeater) (Exemption) Regulations 2022
Set to come into force on 16 June 2022, the Regulations have two primary objectives:
- Extend the licence exemption criteria to cover devices that operate on the frequencies of more than one mobile operator (such as multi-service home signal boosting systems); and
- Permit the licence-exempt use of static indoor mobile repeater devices which amplify signals other than those carried on 2G, 3G and 4G networks (such as 5G signals and LTE signals).
The Regulation is set out as follows:
- Regulation 1 sets out the date when the Regulations come into force;
- Regulation 2 revokes the previous 2018 Regulations;
- Regulation 3 sets out a number of defined terms, which are used throughout the Regulations;
- Regulation 4 provides for both provider-specific and multi-operator repeater devices to be licence exempt.
- Regulations 5-8 set out specific provisions for all mobile repeater devices on the limitations set on transmissions, such as prohibition on undue interference and noise limits;
- Regulations 9-12 set out additional terms for provider-specific devices, and determines frequencies to be amplified, power limits, and system gain limits;
- Regulations 13-17 set out the additional provisions required to be followed by those creating and using multi-operator devices; and
- Regulation 18 takes the current rules on repeaters for use in vehicles and incorporates them into the Regulations.
In implementing the Regulations, Ofcom hopes to continue to support the development and provision of a greater array of mobile repeater devices and continue to assist consumers increase the availability of mobile service indoors and within motor vehicles.
DLA Piper continues to monitor updates and developments relating to Ofcom’s policy and regulatory changes. For further information or if you have any questions please contact the authors or your usual DLA Piper contact.