Monday 16 July 2018

Rural mobile coverage gets a boost as telecoms regulator legalises boosting boxes

Stock Photo
Stock Photo
Adrian Weckler

Adrian Weckler

Rural mobile coverage is set to receive a boost with ‘mobile repeaters’ set to be legalised in the country.

The devices boost what can be a weak mobile signal being received indoors or in a car. Typically, they involve a small antenna placed outside a building with a box inside the building to relay the enhanced signal.

Up to now, they have been unlicensed due to unauthorised interference with mobile phone frequencies, which only the telecom regulator, Comreg, can control.

However, Comreg now says that it has decided to exempt mobile phone repeaters in Ireland due to widespread problems being experienced with mobile phone reception around the country.

“The issue of indoor coverage is one that has taken on a new importance in recent years,” said the regulator in a statement.

“People are more reliant on mobile devices than ever before for their personal communications. With this increased reliance has come greater expectations of users' experience. ComReg has decided to license exempt mobile phone repeaters that meet [some] technical conditions.”

However, the watchdog was careful not to lay the blame on mobile operators for poor reception around the country.

“[The need for repeaters] is primarily due to the use of more energy efficient building materials and the changing habits and usage patterns of consumers,” it said in a statement.

“The core problem is that heat and radio signals are both electromagnetic energy, just at different frequencies, therefore material that is effective at keeping heat in the building is also effective at keeping the radio signals out.”

Mobile boosters cost from around €150 and vary according to frequency and mobile provider.

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