Leading ecommerce companies like Amazon, Flipkart, Snapdeal, Shopclues, Rediff, Indiamart, Ebay and Alibaba, have been issued a warning letter by DoT over unauthorised sale of mobile signal boosters and its illegal facilitation.
DoT to Enforce Ban on Illegal Signal Boosters
The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has acted upon the directives from Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) to enforce strict action including a ban on sale of such illegal equipment in the country.
This is not the first time DoT has issued such a notice as these e-commerce companies had received similar warnings back in 2016 and 2019 for the sale of illegal equipment on their platform.
The e-commerce firms have been accused of facilitating and acting as a promoter to the illegal sale of unauthorised mobile signal boosters as pointed out by the DoT in its letter dated 1 May, 2019.
DoT Urges Need for Dealer Possession License
The e-commerce sites had attempted to dodge the allegations stating that there are mere intermediaries only. DoT has, however, clarified that they are operating as “Online marketplace” without a valid Dealer Possession License (DPL), which violates the provisions of section 79 of the IT Act.
For this specific reason, the e-commerce companies have been charged with illegal sale of equipment on their platform under the provisions of the Indian Wireless Telegraphy Act 1933.
“Therefore, it is reiterated that if there is an licensing/statutory requirement on telecom equipment being sold or purchased it will be the responsibility of those purchasing or selling it as well as of the intermediaries facilitating such sale and purchase that the relevant statutes of the Government are not violated”, DoT said.
DoT has now compelled these e-commerce firms to remove sale and product listing of such unauthorised equipment from their website and intimate their compliance to the regulator on a top priority basis.
COAI had earlier issued warning letters to Amazon and Flipkart in March 2019 directing them to cease and desist from selling mobile signal boosters and other illegal equipment on the platform. The e-commerce companies have been caught violating the terms once again and hence COAI has now instructed DoT to enforce a complete ban on import of such illegal devices, offline or online through e-commerce websites.
COAI Directs DoT to Escalate the Issue
Furthermore, DoT has been directed by COAI to escalate this issue to Ministry of Commerce and Industry to prohibit entry of such illegal boosters into the country with immediate effect.
The sellers of such illegal repeaters are likely to face strict action from the State DGPs, CPs and Chief Secretaries under the directives of DoT and COAI.
The ease of availability of low-cost repeaters in the grey market outlets and online ecommerce portals have invariably created massive bandwidth congestions across cellular networks. This has led to serious service problems like call drops and extremely low data speeds.
“The concern is that, such wide band devices draw in network signals to provide connectivity to a particular building or area in an unregulated manner, thereby depleting the network strength in other surrounding areas and results into call drops and depleted network quality”, COAI noted.
“Available freely in electronics markets, these repeaters are installed by unauthorised agencies at homes, offices, hostels and guest houses to boost mobile signal strengths. Even landlords and home owners are illegally installing such devices in densely populated areas to attract tenants, thereby adversely impacting mobile network availability in the entire given area, be it 2G, 3G or 4G networks”, COAI added.