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Mobile boosters banned

THE Australian Communications Authority last week banned the use of mobile phone boosters and users face big fines if caught using the prohibited technology.

It now is illegal to supply or fit the boosters and individuals can be fined up to $220,000 for possession or use.

ACA chairman Tony Shaw said mobile boosters could endanger lives where people were trying to call emergency services and access was restricted because of the boosters.

“Testing a number of CDMA booster amplifiers found little or no improvement in coverage or performance compared to the use of a correctly installed roof-mounted vehicle antenna,” Mr Shaw said. “But they all caused significant interference to the network and other mobile users.”

The booster is used in conjunction with in-car mobile kits to increase the coverage of the phone. But tests carried out by Telstra showed the boosters provided no benefit.

Mobile carriers said a correctly installed hands-free kit with an external antenna would provide the best coverage.

According to an ACA spokesperson, the boosters are available only through import and cost a few hundred dollars.

None of the mobile phone in-car installers contacted by Business News was familiar with the technology.

Mobile boosters were responsible for a large number of call drop outs near base stations. Unlike compliant mobile phones, boosters do not reduce their amplification as they approach a base station and can cause severe interference to CDMA networks, particularly in regional areas.

Mr Shaw said when boosters compliant with ACA standards became available, they would not be affected by the new laws. However, there are no known boosters in Australia that currently meet the guidelines.

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