Cape Town - Illegal mobile phones have been causing major interference on one of South Africa’s leading networks.

Paseka Maleka, Independent Communications Authority of SA (Icasa) manager for Media and Stakeholder Liaison, said the use of electronic communications equipment not certified by Icasa may cause harmful interference with the operations of licensees’ networks and other electrical equipment.

The authority believes there is a large number of these illegal phones currently in use, with many users unaware their phones are illegal.

These illegal phones interfere with signals so that base stations and other cellphones cannot communicate with each other.

According to the authority, only phones with an official Icasa sticker are legal to use in South Africa.

“If you remove the battery out of your phone, you should see our Icasa sticker. If you don’t, then maybe you need to give us a call,” Maleka said.

To combat further distribution of unregistered phones, Icasa has employed inspectors to do random site visits to suppliers and retailers.

Vodacom has also contributed to the attempt to track down the unregistered phones, using specialised equipment and radio triangulation.

“We believe Icasa could be more vigorous in enforcement action because this is having a serious detrimental effect on the network,” said Richard Boorman of Vodacom.

The fine for illegal phones could reach up to R1-million. Consumers who suspect their phones are not approved can call Icasa at 011 566 3000. - Cape Argus