Illegal devices – buyer beware!

Some devices that you may be able to purchase online are actually banned for use in Australia because they can cause significant interference to mobile networks.

For example, mobile phone boosters or amplifiers are banned because they can cause significant interference to mobile networks and impede access to Triple Zero.

Other devices that can be purchased online, often from overseas vendors, are simply not suitable for use in Australia because they either do not meet Australian standards or are non-compliant with Australia’s spectrum plan which means that they can also cause interference with mobile networks or other radio networks such as those use by emergency service organisations. Such devices can include baby monitors, garage door openers and other simple household devices that use radio waves.

Mobile repeaters may be helpful for improving mobile reception but they can only be used if the specific model has been authorised for your use by your mobile carrier.

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) is responsible for regulation of mobile phone boosters and repeaters under the Radiocommunications Act (1992) and significant fines apply to misuse or the use of banned devices.

Therefore it pays to be careful about purchasing devices that promise to enhance mobile reception from online vendors as you may actually end up buying a device that is either illegal or does not work. Check first with your mobile service provider or the ACMA before you make such a purchase.

Similarly, any radio device that you purchase from an overseas website could potentially cause interference to Australian mobile or other radio networks.

Some of the prohibited devices which are illegal include:

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.

Licensed mobile carriers use mobile repeaters as part of their overall network management and deployment program.

Anyone who is not a licensed mobile carrier may only use a mobile repeater with the permission of a licensed mobile carrier. This is because mobile repeaters often cause significant interference and disruption to mobile networks.

Mobile phone boosters or amplifiers

Mobile phone boosters are devices that can be attached via a cable 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, particularly in an emergency.

Mobile phone and GPS jamming devices

Mobile phone and GPS jamming devices are designed to cause interference so that mobile phones and GPS devices cannot work. The use and possession of these jamming devices is illegal.

Mobile phone customers pay for their service and licensed mobile carriers have paid for a spectrum licence to provide mobile telephony services on their mobile networks. When someone uses a jamming device they are interfering with both the customer’s right to access the service they have paid for as well as the licensed mobile carrier’s spectrum property rights. More importantly, people rely on their mobile phones not only to keep in touch with family and friends, but for safety and security.


Unauthorised use of prohibited devices can result in fines of up to $255,000 or two years imprisonment. 

Find out more about prohibited devices and why they are illegal on the ACMA’s website here. 

You can report the use of an unauthorised or illegal device by calling the ACMA on 1300 850 115 or by emailing out how to report their use or surrender an illegal device.