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Interference to mobile networks - Buyer Beware!

Interference to mobile networks can be problem for mobile network operators as it can cause mobile calls to drop out. It can also affect mobile network performance in an area and impact on data speeds.

Australia’s mobile network operators and the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) take interference complaints seriously as interference has the potential to prevent calls being made to Triple Zero, posing a serious risk to public safety and lives in an emergency.

In most cases, interference to mobile networks is caused inadvertently by people using radiocommunications devices that are either prohibited or not designed for use in Australia.

 

The ACMA encourages anyone who is contacted by a mobile network operator in relation to reported interference to work co-operatively with the mobile network operator to identify the source of interference and manage the problem. If cases of interference cannot be resolved co-operatively, the mobile network operator may escalate the matter to the ACMA for investigation, or independently seek a remedy through the courts. The ACMA can exercise its powers to resolve interference issues and penalties can apply to individuals found guilty of possessing an unlicensed radiocommunications devices; or persons who are engaging in conduct that results in substantial interferences or disruption to radiocommunications. Penalties for these types of offences range from $12, 600- $315, 000 and include potential imprisonment for up to two years.

Some devices are not designed for use in Australia

Sometimes people purchase devices which are designed for use overseas and are not consistent with Australia’s radiofrequency plans, for example, two-way radios, cordless phones, baby monitors, wireless headphones, security cameras or wireless modems – these devices can cause interference with mobile networks. It pays to check before you purchase a device online that it is approved for use in Australia.

Be careful – some devices are not authorised for use or even prohibited in Australia

It pays to be careful about devices you purchase and use in Australia to boost mobile coverage. There are websites that advertise devices that promise to help boost mobile coverage – but these devices are not authorised for use in Australia and in some cases are illegal. The reason these devices are prohibited is that they can cause significant interference with mobile networks and prevent other mobile users from accessing the network which can have serious consequences if somebody is unable to make a Triple Zero call. If you need help with coverage, talk to your mobile service provider as they will be able to tell you about safe and legal ways to boost your coverage.

Mobile Repeaters

A mobile repeater is a fixed radio-communications device that can be used to “repeat” a wireless signal from a base-station and so provide mobile coverage to areas where the base-station signal may be weaker.

Mobile repeaters are used by licensed mobile Carriers as part of their overall network management and deployment program.

Anyone who is not a licensed mobile Carrier can only use a mobile repeater with the permission of a licensed mobile Carrier. This is because mobile repeaters can cause significant interference and disruption to public mobile networks. Unauthorised use of mobile repeaters can result in fines of up to $255, 000 or two years imprisonment.

You can read more about the rules for mobile phone repeaters on the ACMA website and you can find out how to report the use of an unauthorised device here.

Mobile phone boosters

Mobile phone boosters are devices that can be attached to a mobile device to boost the signal strength. Mobile phone boosters are prohibited by the ACMA because they can cause significant interference with mobile networks and prevent access to mobile services by other users. This can have very serious consequences for anyone nearby trying to make a call to Triple Zero (000).

You can read more about the prohibition of mobile phone boosters on the ACMA website.

TV antennas with masthead and distribution amplifiers

Masthead and distribution amplifiers are sometimes used in television reception systems, however, they can also interfere with mobile networks if they are faulty or incorrectly used. Anyone operating a masthead amplifier or distribution amplifier is responsible for any interfering signal it produces.

Click here to download the ACMA’s Consumer Factsheet on Interference to mobile phone networks

 

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How will 5G improve network performance

While the technical standards for 5G are still being developed, experts agree that 5G will offer: Latency of less than 1ms; Ability to deliver speeds of up to 10 Gbps and beyond; Energy efficiency in running 1000s of devices; and Improved network capacity by enabling millions of low bandwidth devices to connect simultaneously. Where 4G focussed on providing improved speed and capacity for individual mobile phone users, 5G will enable more industrial applications, and could be a major technological driver in industrial digitalisation. For more information about 5G read our latest report from Deloitte Access Economics. Download the complete report.

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Flexibility in Network Deployment Regulations

The Department of Communications and the Arts has just completed its public consultation on a suite of amendments to the regulatory framework governing carriers’ deployment of mobile network infrastructure. AMTA joined Communications Alliance in welcoming the opportunity to provide comment on the DoCA consultation paper.

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ARPANSA's latest literature review reports on new Australian study which finds no increase in brain cancer with mobile phone use

In The Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA's) regular EMR literature survey for May 2016, ARPANSA report on the recent Australian study by Professor Simon Chapman which asks the question "Has the incidence of brain cancer risen in Australia since the introduction of mobile phones 29 years ago?".  The paper pubslished in cancer epidermology compared mobile phone ownership with the incidence of brain cancer in Australia.  In the study, brain cancer incidence rates from 1982 to 2012 are compared with the number of mobile phone accounts in the Australian population from 1987 to 2012. The study found that although mobile phone use increased from 0% to 94% during the 30 year period brain cancer incidence rates were stable.  This finding is consitent with previous studies in the US, UK. New Zealand and Nordic countries. See ARPANSA's commentary here: Full paper may be found here: