Particular equipment

Jammers

There may be circumstances in which you wish you had a device to interrupt annoying cell phone conversations. For instance when you’re in the train, wishing you did not have to hear the conversations of fellow commuters or when you do not want to have phones ringing during an important meeting, a show, Mass, in the mosque, … no text messages during class...

In other cases as well a jammer may look like a solution to prevent communication between “inside” and “outside”. Schools for instance could choose to disable WiFi communications during exams.  

Discussions within the European Commission on the legality of jamming have indicated that Member States neither allow the jamming of radio communications nor wish to endorse this. Therefore using jammers is and shall always be prohibited.

The European Union experts have concluded, in consultation with the representatives of the Member States, that it is not possible to manufacture jammers complying with the R&TTE or EMC Directives. Consequently such devices cannot legally be commercialised in the Union for use under these directives.

The Belgian Electronic Communications Act explicitly stipulates (Art. 33, § 12) that it is illegal to hold, commercialize, import, possess or use radio equipment that may cause harmful interference. The Belgian legislation provides for an exception however for the use of jammers that are ordered, installed and used by the military on its manoeuvring grounds or by the management of penitentiary institutions.

Conclusion: it is prohibited to possess or hold any kind of jammer.

GSM and UMTS repeaters

Both businesses and private persons sometimes resort to installing equipment that enhances the reception of GSM or UMTS signals (called GSM or UMTS repeaters), for example in areas where mobile coverage is not experienced as optimal. This equipment is available on the market and can also be purchased through Internet, which may create the impression that its use is free and not subject to regulation. However, only mobile operators can install such repeaters without causing interference. To that effect the GSM or UMTS operators have exclusive rights to the frequencies by virtue of the licences they have obtained.

Repeaters “repeat” the GSM or UMTS frequency (frequencies): they retransmit the signal received after having amplified it. In order to use these frequencies the mobile operators have obtained a licence subject to strict conditions, as regards coverage among other things. By virtue of this licence the GSM or UMTS operators are allocated frequencies on an exclusive basis.

Only mobile operators may install such repeaters. This way they are able to integrate this equipment judiciously into their networks thus ensuring an operation free of interference. They supervise the functioning of this equipment and intervene should there be any problems.

You will find more information in the document “Everything you ever wanted to know about GSM and UMTS repeaters but were afraid to ask".

Conclusion: Installing and using GSM and UMTS repeaters at one’s own initiative is illegal unless the operator in question grants explicit permission. 

Speed radar detectors

A speed radar detector is a device that detects (fixed or mobile) radars used by the police for speed traps. Through a flickering light or beep the device alerts when you approach a speed radar (usually accompanied by a camera).

A speed radar detector is a radio signal receiver and is therefore subject to the radio equipment legislation. Some of these devices do comply with this regulation.

However the use of such devices in Belgium (and in many other countries) is strictly forbidden. This interdiction results from Article 1, § 6, of the Act of 21 June 1985 regarding the technical specifications each vehicle for transport by land, its parts as well as the safety accessories have to comply with. The paragraph reads as follows:

Without prejudice to the stipulations of the Act of 30 July 1979 on radio communications, it is prohibited to manufacture, import, possess, commercialise, sell or provide for free any equipment or any other device intended to prevent or complicate the establishment of breaches of the police law on road traffic, coordinated on 16 March 1968 and of the police regulations on road traffic, or to trace any device referred to in Article 62 of the same Act. Advertising for this equipment as well as the provision of help or advice to install this equipment is also forbidden.(free translation)

Upon discovery of such devices in a car, one risks not only that the device is confiscated but also the vehicle.

Systems that operate on the basis of the GPS location of speed cameras or other speed radars are however allowed in Belgium. 

In certain countries the use of such systems is also prohibited.

Conclusion: the use, possession, trading of and even advertising for speed radar detectors is prohibited.