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Stop sale of mobile signal boosters without valid licence: COAI to e-tailers

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Dion Global

14 Mar 2019

Telecom industry body COAI has asked leading e-commerce companies such as Flipkart, Amazon India and Snapdeal to stop selling mobile signal boosters as their sale without a valid licence is a punishable offence.

In a letter to e-commerce players, the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI), whose members include Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Idea and Reliance Jio, mentioned mobile signal boosters and repeaters that require licence are being sold on their platforms.

"Thus, it is pertinent to note that possession and sale of such equipment, without obtaining requisite permissions under the (Indian Telegraph) Act and rules framed thereunder constitutes violation of the provisions of the Act and is punishable offence," COAI Director-General Rajan S Mathews said.

The letter was sent separately to Flipkart CEO Kalyan Krishnamurthy, Amazon India Country Manager Amit Agarwal, Snapdeal CEO Kunal Bahl, Rediff.com CEO Ajit Balakrishnan and Shopclues CEO Sanjay Sethi.

Mathews said boosters and repeaters of wireless signal fall under the definition of wireless telegraph apparatus and wireless transmitter under the Indian Wireless Telegraph Act, which prohibits their sale without a licence.

He cited Section 6 of the Act that states: "Whoever possesses any wireless transmitter in contravention of the provisions of Sections 3 shall be punished with imprisonment which may extend to three years, or with fine which may extend to one thousand rupees".

The Department of Telecommunications had also written to e-commerce companies in 2015 and 2016 asking them to stop sale of products and equipment that require licence but the companies have not stopped their sale.

A Snapdeal spokesperson said, "As an intermediary, Snapdeal has a robust takedown mechanism in compliance with its legal obligations. COAI's communication will be acted upon as per due process."

An Amazon India spokesperson said: "Amazon operates an online marketplace in India. Sellers selling their products through the amazon.in marketplace are solely responsible for all necessary product compliance and are required to sell products which are legally allowed to be sold in India. Whenever concerns about the listed products get raised, we review the case with the sellers.