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Are mobile signal boosters legal in the UK?

are mobile signal boosters legal in the uk

How can you be sure the mobile signal booster you’re buying is a legal option?

As the world’s grown more reliant on staying connected, the rules and regulations surrounding mobile signal have changed frequently. For many, they’re not a huge concern. But for those people living in not-spots or struggling with poor signal in thick-walled workplaces, understanding what’s allowed and what’s not becomes pretty important.

So take a few minutes to read our latest blog and find out why some mobile signal boosters are legal, and how you can tell if yours is.

Why does the world need mobile signal boosters?

These days, poor mobile coverage inside big buildings is pretty commonplace.

It’s usually down to a combination of location and certain modern building materials, which are unfortunately rather good at blocking signal (click here to read more which materials are the worst for mobile signal).

Like we said, it’s a surprisingly common thing, but that’s hardly a consolation. In the twenty-first century, we’re getting more and more reliant on strong mobile signal; not just for work, but for relaxing and socialising too. And never has it been so crucial than during the Coronavirus pandemic!

But as we move on from the pandemic and telecommuting drops back to more normal levels, employers operating from not-spot workplaces will be forced to face facts.

The world’s grown used to communicating via the Internet while we’ve been stuck at home during lockdowns. Poor mobile signal just won’t cut it when we head back to the office. And the reality is that poor mobile signal is enough to drive clients and employees out of your workspace.

Historically, employers and building owners have turned to signal boosters to solve their problem, but many have failed to ask an important question before doing so. Are mobile signal boosters legal?

Sadly, the answer’s not great news for most people who’ve bought signal boosters (or “repeaters”) in the past.

See, the majority of mobile signal boosters you see for sale in the UK are illegal to use.


So what are the rules surrounding mobile signal boosters?

In April 2018, UK communications regulator Ofcom enforced new regulations called the Wireless Telegraphy (Mobile Repeater) (Exemption) Regulations 2018. These rules allow you to use specific mobile signal repeaters without having to get a licence.

Ofcom says that unless “the apparatus and its installation and use complies with regulations made by Ofcom exempting it from the requirement for a licence… the unlicensed installation and use of a repeater would put the user at risk of prosecution under the 2006 [Wireless Telegraphy] Act.

There are now just two types of signal repeaters that can be used without a licence:

  • Static mobile phone repeaters for indoor use
  • Low-gain mobile phone repeaters for in-vehicle use

The law is also now clear that signal boosters must only amplify the signal from one mobile network at a time, which means that “wideband” boosters are not a legal option.

A hefty fine and prison time

Understandably, many don’t realise they’ve bought illegal products in the past; mostly because the people who sell them pretend that they’re not illegal. But the consequences for having illegal signal boosters are pretty serious.

According to Ofcom, “The unlicensed use of mobile repeaters could result in a fine of up to £5,000 and up to a year in prison.”

So if you’re one of the unlucky ones who bought a repeater kit without asking “are mobile signal boosters legal?” first, and it turns out your one is illegal, you won’t receive any judgement here.

We don’t work for Ofcom. We’re not tell-tales either. But we would like to help you get back on the right side of the law and keep that mobile signal coming. (Keep reading to find out how we can do that.)

How do you tell if your current solution is legal or not?!

To start with, if you had a mobile signal booster installed in your building prior to April 2018, chances are it was an illegal job. Sorry.

It might help to know that the products provided by companies called Huaptec, Boosters Direct, Mobile Signal Boosters, Mobile Repeater and HiBoost are all illegal.

Unfortunately it’s NOT illegal for these companies to sell the illegal products online, it only becomes illegal when you start transmitting an illegal radio frequency. It is the end user breaking the law even if they have been duped into buying an illegal booster.

Be careful when choosing to speak to an ‘expert’, there are still other sellers out there right now, making bogus claims about legality and even falsely displaying a PC Pro logo on their websites. Their kits won’t have a CE mark (which you should always look for), and they often have a Yagi antenna or a long coaxial lead.

So if you see any of those present, alarm bells should ring.

The reality is that there aren’t many providers that can give you a legal solution.

And if you just recognised one of those company names up there and now you’ve got a sweat on, or you suspect you’ve bought a different dodgy kit, you’ll want to rectify the problem ASAP.

Thankfully, there’s an easy way to do that.

So are mobile signal boosters legal?!

Yes! But currently, it’s only the boosters made by one manufacturer that are licence exempt.

That company is called Nextivity.

Their “Cel-Fi” products boost signals by as much as 1000 times, but only over limited distances to avoid interference. They qualify each channel individually too, so that results are focused, and the infrastructure behind the products is all network safe.

Cel-Fi boosters are classed as static mobile phone repeaters for indoor use and are ideal for office buildings with poor signal for many reasons:

  • They’re 100% legal to use
  • They’re unconditionally network safe
  • They’re accepted by UK regulators
  • They provide high quality signal in areas where coverage is poor or non-existent
  • They’re compatible with every mobile network

What should you do with this information?

If you need to improve mobile signal in your building – or maintain better signal but switch to a legal option – Cel-Fi is the way to go.

As the UK’s leading installer of Nextivity Cel-Fi technology, we’d love to help you there.

The products we supply all comply with Ofcom licensing laws. They ensure complete coverage for your building.

If you’d like to have a conversation about how we can help legally improve the signal in your building, give us a call on 020 3823 7365.

Picture of Michelle Lenan
Michelle Lenan
Apart from officially being the most enthusiastic member of the Signal Solutions team, Michelle plays a key role in our mission to fix the UK's mobile signal problem. She spends her days creating blog posts and spreading the word across our social media platforms.