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Mobile signal boosters and repeaters with MCMC label are legal but permission still required

The Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) has recently highlighted a significant increase in the number of complaints related to signal interference due to the usage of unauthorised mobile signal boosters. It reminded the public that the usage of self-installed cellular boosters and repeaters (CBR) are illegal. If caught, they can be fined up to RM500,000 or face imprisonment for up to 5 years, or both.

We’ve reached out to the MCMC for clarity and they have responded to us in writing. Here’s what you need to know.

Boosters sold without MCMC label are illegal

According to the MCMC, all CBRs sold online without the MCMC label are illegal under Section 239 for Unlawful use, possession or supply of non-standard equipment or device. It clarified that CBRs with MCMC label is legal but you can only use it when it is approved by the telco under their Apparatus Assignment (AA) or Spectrum Assignment (SA).

If you’re thinking of getting one, MCMC urge consumers to consult with their telcos before buying any CBR with MCMC label to avoid being scammed by sellers. Under the original guidelines, it is stated that you are only allowed to purchase boosters and repeaters that have been certified by the MCMC and the telcos must ensure that the equipment does not cause any interference to existing cellular and wireless broadband networks.

How to get a cellular booster legally?

As mentioned by the MCMC earlier, consumers must first lodge a complaint with their respective telcos before they are able to get a booster or repeater. Not all Quality of Service issues can be solved with a CBR and the issue might be caused by network congestion. Telcos will need to evaluate every complaint and address the problems accordingly.

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The MCMC added that there’s no standard pricing for the CBR and some telcos may offer it for free to address the customer’s complaint. However, this is only applicable if the customer meets the telco’s requirement.

What if the telco refuses to offer the booster?

If a telco refuses to offer CBRs to a customer, they must first explain the root cause of the problem as the CBR on its own may not solve the issue. Consumers are urged to file a complaint against the telco via the MCMC Aduan portal if the telco continues not to provide an acceptable level of service. The commission will evaluate and investigate the complaint and will resolve the issue together with the telco.

Can you use an external antenna without signal boosters?

MCMC is aware that some users may connect external antennas to their wireless broadband modem to improve reception. It added that it is permitted if the wireless broadband modem is certified together with the external antenna.

It warned that a modified modem with an external antenna may potentially cause spectrum interference or radio frequency interference (RFI) to nearby cellular base station. If it causes interference especially to other users, you may be advised to dismantle the equipment.

Users will be served a notice to switch off the CBR

To clamp down on sellers of illegal signal boosters and repeaters, users of illegal equipment will be served with a Notice of Interference by the MCMC after a RFI investigation is completed. The owner of the device will be requested to switch off the CBR within 7 days and to share its proof of purchase.

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With the provided information, MCMC will take action under Section 239 of the Communications and Multimedia Act (CMA) 1998 against the local seller that sold the CBR. If the seller is based overseas, MCMC will work with the online platform provider to delist the seller’s listing permanently.

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Alexander Wong