Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Wireless Networking

FCC Issues Forfeiture Notices to Two Business for Jamming Cellular Frequencies 350

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the don't-mess-with-the-fcc dept.
An anonymous reader writes "The FCC, responding to anonymous complaints that cell phone jamming was occurring at two businesses, investigated and issued each a Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture and Order (NAL). You can read the details of the investigation and calculation of the apparent liability in each notice below. Businesses engaged in similar illegal activity should note the public safety concerns and associated fines. From the article: 'The FCC issued a Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture and Order to each business: The Supply Room received an NAL in the amount of $144,000 (FCC No. 13-47), while Taylor Oilfield Manufacturing received an NAL in the amount of $126,000 (FCC No, 13-46).'"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

FCC Issues Forfeiture Notices to Two Business for Jamming Cellular Frequencies

Comments Filter:
  • Tip of the iceberg (Score:3, Interesting)

    by johnny5555 (2843249) on Monday April 15, 2013 @10:11PM (#43457883)
    Seems like a LOT of businesses do this, unless it's a coincidence that I lose service right after stepping inside tons of different stores.
    • by jamiedolan (1743242) <jamiedolan@gmail.com> on Monday April 15, 2013 @10:19PM (#43457927) Homepage
      Many commercial buildings have a lot of steal in the structure / roof which is very difficult for higher frequency radio waves to penetrate. (Concrete and block are also difficult for many signals to penetrate) I highly doubt most stores are actively blocking your signal, however many are very likely "passively blocking" phone signals due to the commonly used construction materials in commercial buildings.
      • by DavidRawling (864446) <hulk_@NOsPAm.yahoo.com> on Monday April 15, 2013 @11:05PM (#43458153)

        Many commercial buildings have a lot of steal in the structure / roof ...

        Ah, so that's why I can never figure out where all my money goes!

        • "Ah, so that's why I can never figure out where all my money goes!"

          Yep. That's why they jam the cell phones. Makes the steal that much easier.

      • by Sipper (462582)

        ...however many are very likely "passively blocking" phone signals due to the commonly used construction materials in commercial buildings.

        Instead of "passively blocking", I think you mean "shielding". As in a " Faraday cage". This doesn't hamper signals outside of the structure.

        • by Jane Q. Public (1010737) on Tuesday April 16, 2013 @12:24AM (#43458457)

          "Instead of "passively blocking", I think you mean "shielding". As in a " Faraday cage". This doesn't hamper signals outside of the structure."

          It's mostly due to bad reflections, interference, and simple attenuation. Unless a building is entirely steel clad, modern buildings make terrible Faraday cages.

          Even with steel studs at 18" centers, that's more than 3 times the wavelength of 2GHz signals. Aside from studs, beams and girders and the like, even in a building with a lot of them, are nowhere near close enough to make a Faraday cage at those wavelengths.

      • by tlhIngan (30335)

        Many commercial buildings have a lot of steal in the structure / roof which is very difficult for higher frequency radio waves to penetrate. (Concrete and block are also difficult for many signals to penetrate) I highly doubt most stores are actively blocking your signal, however many are very likely "passively blocking" phone signals due to the commonly used construction materials in commercial buildings.

        Commercial buildings have a LOT of RF shielding. First, the studs are normally steel studs. The roofs a

      • by shentino (1139071)

        I think the cell phone companies have more steal in them than the businesses in question...

    • by verifine (685231) on Monday April 15, 2013 @10:21PM (#43457945)

      If your business has a steel roof, that's what's doing the jamming. I have no problem if there's a legitimate reason to SCREEN cell phone emissions. You do that by lining your walls with some kind of "chicken wire" appropriate for the frequency the offenders are trying to transmit on.

      Funny how this transfers the cost of cell phone use denial to the business that wishes to deny it, and how appropriate. The idea of employing jammers, simply ridiculous. I hear it as the cheapest way to deal with a perceived problem. If you can't motivate your employees, that's not MY problem (should I unwittingly venture onto your property.) Seems to me that denial of 911 access alone would put any of these guardians of all freedom into a painful legal situation.

      A-holes on cell phones are the same a-holes that have plagued society since time immemorial. Trying to counter a perceived RF threat with more RF is a strategy destined to failure.

      • by KGIII (973947) on Tuesday April 16, 2013 @12:25AM (#43458461) Journal

        All of what you said is true but it made me think...

        Should you have a right to use a radio on my property?

        I don't own the spectrum, I don't own the device, I simply own the land. Should I be allowed to block RF (regardless of how beneficial this plan may be, no matter how ineffective, etc - we're simply concerned with rights and not efficacy) on my land?

        This is different than a place of employment and I'm not speaking of places generally open to the public. I'm strictly speaking about my property - we can even limit it specifically to an area centralized around my living quarters so as to avoid any blocking from overlapping onto neighboring property. There is no situation where ones blocking should be allowed to impact neighboring property.

        Now, I can't think of a legitimate reason to block RF on my land or anything like that - but that's not the point. It seems that I tend to take a rather heavy handed approach when it comes to personal freedom and property rights.

        I'm not attempting to be negative nor am I attempting to start an argument. I am unsure of what to think and thus my question - I really don't know. As the spectrum is considered communal property and is regulated as such there is the argument that restricting someone's right to their property (the spectrum they're allowed to use legally) is wrong. Yet, for some unknown reason, one may wish to prevent people from using a ham radio, CB, etc on their property and actively seek to block it. Should they be allowed to do so? Should they be allowed the right to prohibit radio communication from their property?

        I don't really know - I am leaning towards a, "Yes, they should be allowed to block it on their own private property while assuring that none of their blocking methods impact any portion of neighboring property." Again, I can't think of any logical reason why someone would want to block that so I'm mostly curious as to your (and other people's) opinion on where the line should be drawn.

        In fact, all I can picture is some hillbilly drawling out that he "doesn't want none of your radio frequency being utilized on this here property." It's ridiculous at face value but the question remains the same where freedoms are concerned.

        Also... We already have national radio quiet zones where anything of the sort is expressly forbidden but I don't think that the reasons they are allowed to enact such regulations apply to private property very well and they aren't actually blocking RF so the two aren't really related. *just wanted to cover that to avoid potential confusion*

        Anyhow, yeah - it made me think. I'm unsure and I'm sure I haven't considered everything. Thoughts?

        • As a mobile developer, I've found cell phone blockers are one of my favorite things. It lets you test out-of-coverage scenarios so much more easily.

          Alternatives are somewhat painful. The funniest alternative is a box I've seen that is sealed. The signal goes off when your device is inside, but you have no idea how the device responded.

          Faraday cage rooms are ok if you can afford one, but even inside a company like Qualcomm, scheduling time inside one can be difficult because they are in demand. And you h
        • Shielding is fine, mostly incidental anyway, and isn't an offense. Transmitting on a licensed band when you're not the licensee, on the other hand, is very illegal. Jammers do not "block" RF; they are transmitters. Unquestionably illegal (the jammer part doesn't even matter, really) unless you're the licensee of whatever it's transmitting on.

      • Passive reflection and "screening", as you put it, are not even close to the same as "jamming". They're just not the same things. Jamming is something you pretty much have to do actively and on purpose.
    • by smpoole7 (1467717) on Tuesday April 16, 2013 @12:44AM (#43458557) Homepage

      >unless it's a coincidence that I lose service right after stepping inside

      A typical mobile phone might still show a signal if there is interference; you just wouldn't be able to make a call. (That's basically what "jamming" is: interference done on purpose.) If you're showing *no* signal, that's probably just the building blocking the RF.

      Here in Birmingham, AL, there's a spot on I-65 where my phone shows tons of signal, but I invariably lose a call there, because of interference.

      Having dealt with the FCC a time or two (I'm a radio engineer, AM/FM), I read the NAL. These yahoos weren't just jamming cell signals inside their facility. That's illegal enough, but the NAL makes it clear that they WERE spilling signal all over the place. The FCC's field engineer was able to triangulate the building's location, getting a positive ID. They should have been shut down.

      Look: you can discourage cell use with a faraday cage or other shielding, as some here have mentioned. If you're using a jammer, f'crying out loud, you DEFINITELY need shielding, anyway, or you're going to be interfering with people well outside of your facility.

      • Hang Up (Score:3, Insightful)

        Here in Birmingham, AL, there's a spot on I-65 where my phone shows tons of signal, but I invariably lose a call there, because of interference.

        Maybe that's Karma telling you to hang up and drive, Mr. More Dangerous Than A Drunkard.


  • They really should title it something like: Announcement Notice of Apparent Liability
  • Things in the public domain (like airwaves) belong to the public and private businesses should not be able to simply decide they want to take away from the public domain just because they feel like it. They can always ask someone with a cell phone who is being an ass to leave their premises if they don't like it.

    Now if only other government agencies would respect the public domain for things like formerly copyrighted works that were previously released into the public domain and other a whole host of other

    • Re:This is awesome (Score:4, Insightful)

      by epyT-R (613989) on Monday April 15, 2013 @10:54PM (#43458099)

      Unfortunately, the FCC licensing of the spectrum removes the meat of that claim. If the spectrum is publicly owned, the public shouldn't have to pay for licenses to use it however it sees fit. This is similar to socialist countries calling themselves "The Peoples' Republic of...". On paper it's true, but in reality, it's not. If the spectrum were truly open, it would be chaos; completely unusable for all but local communications.

      It's the cell customers who are creating a public disturbance with the cell carriers' service and license. If the store is popular, asking people one at a time to hang up takes up too much time. Passive signs don't work either. The best way to handle it is to jam, preferably with a passive 'faraday cage' when possible. If not, then low power jammers should be used. If customers want to use their phones, they have to go outside. If they don't like losing service while shopping, they can go elsewhere.

    • Things in the public domain (like airwaves) belong to the public and private businesses...

      Private businesses own the spectrum in question. And other private businesses want to block access to those airwaves on their own property. What you're arguing for is that the government should have the ability to tell you what you can (and cannot) do on your own property with regards to wireless spectrum.

      But here's the interesting flip -- if you receive transmissions from, say, DISH Network, and use a secret "pirate" decoder ring to watch the free transmissions coming onto your property, you're a criminal.

      • Private businesses own the spectrum in question. And other private businesses want to block access to those airwaves on their own property. What you're arguing for is that the government should have the ability to tell you what you can (and cannot) do on your own property with regards to wireless spectrum.

        No, they do not own it. Not in any country I know, including US. The spectrum is not ownable. All the EM spectrum is considered a public resource whose use is controlled by the government. The government can grant concessions for people and companies to use parts of it, but even then those parts are still not their property. You can physically block signals within your property by shielding it, but you cannot do that by emitting any signal without authorization.

        • You can physically block signals within your property by shielding it, but you cannot do that by emitting any signal without authorization.

          Which neatly avoids the question: Do you have the right to do what you want with wireless transmissions occurring on your property? If not, what are the restrictions, and please justify your answers. Now I don't want you to actually answer that -- it's meant to illustrate that the concept of ownership is relevant here; Whether it's a private citizen, or the government; Anything that can be controlled is, by definition, owned. What I'm asking is... to what degree is ownership shared?

  • by girlinatrainingbra (2738457) on Monday April 15, 2013 @10:40PM (#43458027)
    Is it just an interesting coincidence that both are being charged with the importation of cell phone jammers and both "The Supply Room" in Oxford Alabama and "Taylor Oilfield Manufacturing" in Broussard Louisiana had
    -- 5 cell phone jammers purchased from overseas
    -- 4 were in active use at the time of inspection / catching them
    -- 1 was a "backup" in storage at the time
    -- both were investigated because of an "anonymous call"

    I think it's more likely that the FCC started investigating those companies which had done business with the overseas supplier of the cell phone jammers. Wouldn't that make more sense than "anonymous" tipsters?

    • by AuMatar (183847) on Monday April 15, 2013 @11:05PM (#43458149)

      Annonymous tip= worker who didn't like the policy and found out, or former worker who didn't like the policy or wanted to hurt the company.

      • That makes sense also. But I also think that there's a possibility that they're working off of a sales list from the manufacturer.
    • I'm not sure there's any way to get a cell phone jammer than overseas. For all we know they might have brought them in suitcases.
    • by gl4ss (559668)

      the chinese supplier wouldn't tell their customers... it's more likely the businesses were ran by inconsiderate assholes, since they obviously didn't mind breaking the law(for little to no benefit) as long as they thought they would get away with it.
      it's a simple device to make. you start allowing them you might just as well start allowing anything on any frequency and may the strongest signal win!

      if they want to limit use of phones, they shouldn't allow phones in their premises. simple, eh?

  • Perhaps you've heard of a Faraday cage?

    Build a metal box, approximately ... there are some important details
    RF doesn't get through.

    You can stop RF. It's not that hard. And, you don't need to break the law to do it.

    Jammers are illegal in the US. Period.
    • Exactly. A Faraday cage effects exactly YOUR PROPERTY. Jammers typically are turned up until the most "durable" device gets its connection broken.. So many Jammers are effecting their neighbors and people in public spaces.

  • Bad thing about a lot of these jammers is they don't just affect cellular but also the 700 and 800 MHz spectrum used by public safety - firefighters and police. There have been jammers seized by LE where they got out on traffic stops and their radios started showing out of range.

  • Time to compromise? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by GWBasic (900357) <slashdotNO@SPAMandrewrondeau.com> on Tuesday April 16, 2013 @01:40AM (#43458789) Homepage
    I think its time to dedicate a very narrow-band low-frequency for a polite "bit." Any business should be able to apply to purchase a transmitter with a 25-foot radius that sets cell devices to silent or vibrate. Perfect for restaurants and theaters, yet it still allows people to use their devices.

There are worse things in life than death. Have you ever spent an evening with an insurance salesman? -- Woody Allen

Working...