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Phone use ban

Filipe Naigulevu
Wednesday, February 28, 2018

DIGITAL enhanced cordless telecommunications (DECT) telephones are now banned from being imported or used in Fiji for harmfully interfering with 3G mobile networks operated by local service providers.

The importation and usage of DECT telephones is also now an offence declared by the Telecommunication Authority of Fiji (TAF) pursuant to its powers under Section 17 of the Telecommunications Promulgation of 2008.

This was reiterated yesterday by TAF acting manager technical Tevita Navila urging members of the public to surrender devices and refrain from using them.

"We wish to reiterate to the public that the importation of or usage or DECT cordless telephones is prohibited for the very reason that it is causing harmful interference to 3G mobile networks," Mr Navila said.

"So what really happens during the usage of these DECT cordless phones is that it blocks or cuts off the communication line between a mobile phone and the nearest tower/base station.

"When this happens, you will experience dropped calls, you will experience poor call quality and also very slow internet connection."

A DECT phone is a cordless phone that works with your landline phone line. It is the type of phone set that allows you to roam in the house or in the office while you talk.

The TAF had also issued a public notice stating a period of 30-day ending March 27, 2018 being extended to the public to comply with surrendering any DECT devices.

It also stated that anyone found in possession of such devices for use or for sale after the 30 day period would be penalised under the promulgation and could face a fine of up to $20,000 or 24 months imprisonment.

"It is very costly to the mobile operators as well as the authority to analyse or find out the existence of these telephones, that will occupy a substantial amount of working hours and also be substantial travelling to identify the existence of these cordless phones," he said.

"There are many types of cordless telephones and they almost all look alike.

"But the public can identify the interfering type by looking at the body of the phone or to look for the information on the phone and to identify the key word which is DECT, digitally enhanced cordless telephones."

Mr Davila said the problem occurred since 2010 during the development of communication technologies such as 3G.

Recently, it was raised by telecommunication providers that several DECT telephones were interfering 3G networks during their respective analysis.

"DECT technology was developed for the European market and for the American market. So when the two markets developed their technologies into 3G, they phased out DECT telephones," Mr Davila said.

"So the manufacturers of DECT phones looked for other regions outside of these two markets to supply DECT phones without 3G and one of them was the South Pacific which included Fiji.

"It was working fine then because there was 3G technology in the market, but when it was introduced as a licensed technology in Fiji, DECT was already."

Mr Davila said while they had confiscated 68 DECT telephones until now, several devices are leaked into Fiji through private packages.

"DECT has been banned from imported into Fiji, but some are brought through private packages which were not declared at border level and some came through yachts, but we're working with Customs who are our eyes at the border.

"There is also system in place that we use for our screening and analysis on the field that detects the DECT frequency being used. The signal on the machine, it will tell us."

Mr Davila said while current DECT telephones users would not be getting a refund upon surrendering their devices, the TAF had discussed several resolutions with telecommunication providers to replace cordless phones with mobile phones.

However he clarified that this has not been formalised.

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