Repeater users could cause a 'disaster'

BANANA Shire Council mayor Ron Carige has warned residents who use "illegal repeaters" could cause a "disaster" in a natural disaster by unwittingly cutting off vital communication lines.

Repeaters boost a mobile phone's signal, giving the user optimum service.

But in some cases, they can "blind" mobile base stations, disabling coverage to the entire area it services.

Cr Carige said "it appears" the devices are being used in the Banana Shire Council area, causing significant reception problems for others.

"Mobile repeaters can cause significant mobile reception issues and it would be disastrous in the middle of a natural disaster if people couldn't make calls or receive emergency warnings," Cr Carige said.

"Not only are they ruining mobile reception for their neighbours, they're also breaking the law and risking heavy penalties," he added.

It's an offence to use an unlicensed radio communications device under the Radio Communications Act, carrying a possible two year jail sentence and fines of up to $255,000.

While Cr Carige said the council was working with Telstra to locate the technology, he'd prefer if residents just stopped using them before they were caught out.

Mr Carver said users of the devices often mightn't know that it's illegal.

"Unfortunately these devices are readily available, particularly through online suppliers who falsely claim they are legal," he said.