The distortion in spectrum has become a serious issue for the telecom industry because of the increasing use of illegal signal boosters.

Experts have proposed the setting up of a task force, like in the UK, to monitor and address the wireless interface issues so that the public and telecom industry can cope with the problems caused by the illegal devices.

Speaking to The Express Tribune, ICT consultant Parvez Iftikhar said, “In every country, it is the responsibility of the telecom regulator to safeguard the interest of customers and cellular operators alike by ensuring an interference-free spectrum.”

He added, “We need to follow the example of countries like the UK which have successfully dealt with this issue by establishing a special task force that monitors and deals with wireless interference problems. We need to follow their lead and work together to not only raise awareness of the issues caused by signal boosters but also impose strict penalties as deterrence.”

The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA), in a statement issued a few days ago, advised the public not to buy GSM amplifiers, boosters, repeaters, mobile phones and SIM boxes without valid permission or approval.

Iftikhar said that even though PTA was working to curb the illegal devises, the consumers also needed to play their part.

He urged the consumers to avail the facility of mobile number portability instead of using illegal devices in case of poor quality of telecom service or weak signals of a particular telecom company in an area.

As per PTA regulations, the cellular mobile operators (CMOs) and PTA type approval holders are allowed to import GSM boosters and install at consumer premises.

The illegal sale of telecom equipment in the country shows that these devices are being brought to Pakistan with the help of traditional tactics.

In this regard, the PTA, in a recent letter, urged the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) to not give Customs clearance to the imported equipment of any licensed or unlicensed company other than the authorised telecom companies and in this regard all field officers should also be mobilised.

PTA has warned the public that such devices pose a risk to health, security and lower the quality of service. It has also advised all websites and e-commerce platforms that are advertising or selling the banned telecom devices to remove all such content from their respective websites to avoid any legal action.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 16th, 2021.

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