Friday Feb 03, 2023

Ofcom unveils new mobile phone rules – and they will improve phone signal for millions

Regulator Ofcom are repealing a rule that made certain types of mobile phone signal booster illegal — meaning millions of Brits could be able to receive better signal in their homes

The regulators are changing the rules surrounding the types of mobile phone signal booster that are legal to buy in the UK.

The aim is to bolster the signal indoors and in peoples’ homes, in an effort to overcome the dreaded signal dead spot.

Online comparison company, Uswitch, reported in March this year that around 30 million mobile phone users in the UK have trouble getting signal in their own homes.

Twenty-seven percent say they regularly had to go to different rooms in the house to get better signal, 14% having to leave their homes and 19% saying they had to resort to online communication services like WhatsApp instead.

The signal boosters, known as indoor mobile repeaters, could previously only be used with a license, however in April this year (2021) two kinds of repeater were legalised.

One kind, known as a static mobile phone repeater, aim to improve signal inside buildings, such as homes, offices.

However, they cannot be used in other circumstances like a vehicle in motion.

The second is a low gain mobile phone repeater, which is designed for use inside cars and other road vehicles.

These cannot be used in other vehicles such as boats or fixed-location caravans.

However now two new kinds of booster are being introduced: provider-specific operators repeaters and multi-operator repeaters.

Provided they meet Ofcom’s technical requirements, the boosters will be able to provide amplified signal of more than one phone operator at a time.

The boosters will aim to take a strong signal from outdoors and help it penetrate indoors more effectively.

Ofcom said: We won’t be endorsing or approving specific products; but to help people find legal mobile repeaters, we will publish a list of devices on our website that comply with the technical requirements.”

The boosters had previously required a license due to concerns they would cause interference with other networks and potentially disrupt other users.

In their report Ofcom said: “Further technical analysis has satisfied us that we can safely extend the range of self-installed repeater devices that can operate without a licence.”

If you feel picking up a newly legal repeater still isn’t the solution for you and your home, WiFi-calling is available, allowing users to make calls through their broadband connection without downloading an app or needing the person you’re calling to either.

You may need to discuss switching this option on with your service provider.


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