Ofcom launches consultation to boost mobile signals
Written by: Richard Hook | Published:
Ofcom HQ building viewed from riverside Ofcom HQ has issued a series of proposals covering indoor mobile signals and local radio service (credit: Ofcom)

Communications regulator Ofcom has announced the launch of a consultation on new regulations that it claims will support improved mobile reception in homes across the UK.

The proposed regulations will support the creation of a wider range of indoor mobile repeaters, which can be used in residential properties to amplify a mobile reception. The proposals will see more of the so-called ‘signal boosters’ become available to be self-installed without a licence.

Ofcom said it will make the regulations around ‘signal boosters’ technology-neutral, allowing the use of 5G repeaters as well as 2G, 3G and 4G devices, provided they meet certain technical requirements.

A spokesperson for Ofcom said: “Repeaters are devices that can help people with a poor indoor mobile phone signal get better indoor coverage . They work best when there is a good outdoor signal that can be boosted indoors. We are now consulting on proposals to extend the range of static indoor repeaters available for people to buy and install themselves without a licence.

“In order to help the public identify repeaters that can be ‘legally’ used without a licence – rather than ‘illegal’ devices that risk causing interference – we will also publish on our website a list of mobile phone repeaters that we understand comply with the technical requirements of our licence exemption regime.”

The proposed expansion of ‘signal boosters’ available follows last week’s announcement by Ofcom that it was planning to develop a new approach to licensing and spectrum allocation for ‘restricted’ radio services.

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According to the regulator, the new method of spectrum planning will enable better identification of small gaps in spectrum use – between existing broadcast radio services in the FM band. Because of the limited coverage that can be achieved using this spectrum, it is not suitable for national, local and community radio broadcasts, but is particularly suited for restricted service broadcasts.

Ofcom said it intends to make “more efficient use of limited coverage spectrum to increase the overall spectrum resource available”.

The consultation closes on 25 April, and Ofcom said it will publish its decision on the proposals in June.

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