Press Releases

ANCOM draws attention on the usage of signal amplifiers

19.10.2021

 

 

The National Authority for Management and Regulation in Communications (ANCOM) draws attention to the fact that 2G/3G/4G signal amplifiers must meet certain conditions to be used legally. First, they must bear the CE marking. Second, they can only be put into operation by or with the consent of the electronic communications operator whose signal is to be amplified. The use of signal amplifiers that do not meet these conditions may cause harmful interference in the frequency spectrum, affecting the proper functioning of mobile communications services. From 1 January until 1 October 2021, the Authority identified and put out of operation almost 80 amplifiers that lacked the CE marking or were incorrectly put into operation.

How do GSM amplifiers work?

GSM signal amplifiers/boosters (also called GSM repeaters) are radio devices designed to take over the signal transmitted by the 2G/3G/4G base stations of the providers of mobile communications services to amplify and retransmit it indoors, ensuring enhanced radio signal, when received by a mobile terminal.

The mobile telephony service is provided by the propagation of radio waves, which can be affected by various obstacles (landscape, vegetation, metal structures, buildings, etc.) and weather conditions. The quality of the telephone service also depends on the number of users connected to a certain station, the traffic volume generated by them, as well as the occurrence of local malfunctions because of incidents or scheduled works, etc.

How can GSM signal amplifiers be used?

First, a user who intends to put an amplifier into operation must notify their operator and obtain its consent and assistance for the equipment installation. This is necessary both because the operator is licensed to use the frequencies on which the amplifier will operate and because the equipment must be put into operation correctly. Upon installation, the operator should check whether the equipment is functioning smoothly in its own network.

Second, the user must look for the CE marking when purchasing a signal amplifier.

Emissions on the radio spectrum frequencies are allowed only based on a frequency usage licence or – as applicable – a transmission licence issued by ANCOM, except for the licence-exempt frequencies, for certain types of applications and on the condition that strict technical and operational parameters are observed. The frequency bands used by mobile operators are not exempt from licensing.

Importance of CE marking

The CE marking is a key indicator of the compliance of a product (and therefore of radio equipment) with the European Union legislation in terms of meeting the essential requirements, and it allows the free movement of the respective product within the EU.

The essential requirements to be met by all radio equipment concern:

·        protection of the health and safety of the user and any other person;

·        protection regarding electromagnetic compatibility. Electromagnetic compatibility means the ability of equipment to operate without producing electromagnetic disturbances that impede the proper functioning of other equipment operating nearby;

·        the efficient use of radio spectrum to avoid harmful interference.

A piece of equipment placed on the European Union market or put into operation on the territory of the European Union - so on the market of any of the EU member states, including Romania - without having the CE marking affixed will be deemed to be non-compliant.

Radio equipment without the CE marking may cause harmful interference to the frequency spectrum, affecting the operation of nearby electronic communications services.

Moreover, even CE-marked radio equipment can cause harmful interference to the radio frequency spectrum if not properly installed (e.g. amplifiers not installed by the operator) or used without a spectrum licence in frequency bands that are not licence-exempt, affecting the operation of nearby electronic communications services.

In extreme cases, harmful interference caused by non-compliant radio equipment can affect calls to the 112 emergency number!

Non-compliant equipment identified by ANCOM

From the beginning of this year until 1 October 2021, ANCOM identified and put out of operation almost 80 GSM signal amplifiers that caused harmful interference to the frequency spectrum.

During this period, 10 fixed cordless DECT 6.0 telephone sets brought from outside the European Union and used in Romania were also identified. Such non-compliant equipment has been intensely used in recent years, almost 700 DECT 6.0 telephones being identified and taken out of use in 2018. The massive reduction in the use of this type of equipment also comes as a result of extensive information campaigns on the associated risks, carried out by the Authority since 2016. Details on these information campaigns are available, in Romanian, here and here.

Other radio equipment bearing the CE marking

All equipment that operates by using the radio spectrum must bear the CE marking, among which: fixed and mobile telephones - including from outside the European Union (e.g., from the United States or Asia) -, desktop PCs, tablets, laptops, video game consoles and controllers, drones, lighting fixtures - including LED -, household appliances, household radiotelephones (such as walkie-talkie or baby monitoring stations), RF remote controls, IR remote controls, circuit breakers, radio microphones (wireless microphones), radio-controlled toys, routers.

If holders of non-compliant radio equipment continue to use them, they breach the provisions of Government Decision no. 740/2016 on making available on the market of radio equipment, and may be applied sanctions that range between RON 500 and RON 5,000. 

 

ü  Exhaustive information about non-compliant equipment and the legislation applicable in such cases is available here and here.