Monday 11 March 2019

Telcos ask etailers to stop sale of signal boosters

Telcos ask etailers to stop sale of signal boostersKolkata: Telecom companies have asked the country’s big online marketplaces Amazon, Flipkart, Snapdeal, ShopClues and to stop the sale of mobile signal boosters and repeaters on their webstores/platforms, saying possession and sale of such wireless gear is illegal and a punishable offence under the Indian Wireless Telegraph Act of 1933.

The Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI), in identical letters to these digital majors, has also said “usage of such wireless telegraphy apparatus by end-customers creates severe interference in the licensed frequency bands assigned to telcos, impacting the overall quality of (mobile) services”.

ET has seen these letters that are marked to GK Agarwal, wireless advisor in the Department of Telecommunications (DoT).

COAI has noted that the specifications of boosters and repeaters sold online claim that these devices enhance signals across the 800 MHz, 900 MHz, 1800 MHz, 2100 MHz and 2300 MHz licensed spectrum bands, which are assigned to telecom carriers.

Accordingly, the COAI, which represents Vodafone Idea, Bharti Airtel and Reliance Jio, has called on these big online retailers “to immediately cease and desist” from selling mobile signal boosters and repeaters that fall under the definition of ‘wireless telegraphy apparatus’ and ‘wireless transmitter’ under the Indian Wireless Telegraph Act.

“It is pertinent to note that possession and sale of such equipment, without obtaining requisite permissions under the Wireless Telegraph Act and rules framed thereunder, constitutes violation of the provisions and is a punishable offence under Section 6 of the Act,” Rajan Mathews, director general of COAI, said in letters to the online marketplaces.

Mathews has also cited a DoT letter of May 10, 2016 that had conveyed to the online/e-commerce companies that under Indian Wireless Telegraphy (Possession) Rules, 1965, “no person/dealer shall sell or hire a wireless set/equipment to any person, unless they hold a valid dealer possession licence (DPL)”.

Further, the DPL holder, according to DoT’s letter, “can sell (such) wireless sets/equipment only to such person/entity that holds an authorisation issued by the communications ministry to establish a wireless telegraph under the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885”.

Further, DoT’s communique of May 2016, cited by COAI, had noted that in case there is any licensing/statutory requirement on telecom gear being sold or purchased, “it would be the responsibility of those selling it or purchasing it, as well as of the online intermediaries facilitating such sale and purchase, that the relevant statutes of the government are not violated”.

In response to ET’s queries, an Amazon spokesperson said sellers selling their products through the marketplace are “solely responsible for all necessary product compliance and are required to sell products which are legally allowed to be sold in India”.

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