Jammer Petition Has Little to do with Reality
On 11/2/07 CTIA filed a petition with FCC asking for a declaratory petition to ban all cell phone jammers. (FCC has no jurisdiction over federal agency spectrum use so federal agencies would not be affected by such a ruling.) Wisely, FCC has never taken any action on this petition - not even asking for public comment. While addressing the jammer issue, CTIA gratuitously asks FCC to also ban users' amplifiers that extend the range of their often underbuilt systems as shown below from a previous post. While some amplifiers approved by FCC have a tendency of self oscillation that poses an interference risk, other amplifiers - such as those built by my client Wilson Electronics - have builtin protection. The protected phones gives users a larger service area. So why is this bad?
A recent CNN item reports how cell phones in prison continue to be a real security threat. The photo above shows a smuggled cell phone. Prison jammers would enhance public safety. While they may not be practical in urban jails with adjacent buildings, they could be a real security boost for prisons with some land around them.
CTIA, wake up and support the use of jammers in prisons under reasonable conditions, such as conditions analogous to the rules NTIA has for GPS repeaters in Section 8.3.28 in the "NTIA Red Book":
This NTIA rule limits stength outside the building that is intended to be covered by the GPS repeater to that receivers outside the building aren't affected. A parallel FCC rule could allow cell phone jamming in prisons and yet protect cell phones outside the prison. CTIA, doesn't safety to the public and prison staff deserve this limited use of cell phone jamming?
UPDATE: On November 12, 2008 CTIA showed its lack of interest in public safety by writing to FCC to oppose a one day test of cell phone jamming at a South Carolina prison. CTIA suggests that the problem can be solved with "sniffer dogs" and scanners, but offered no resources to prove their hypothesis. Perhaps the CTIA staff would like to do a field test in a correctional facility to test out their ideas?
2nd UPDATE: 12/17/08 AP Story
AUSTIN — Texas officials are accusing the Federal Communications Commission of "bureaucratic double-talk" after agency officials just "encouraged" a cell phone jamming test that was cancelled because federal officials would not authorize it, according to a newspaper report.
"Only in Washington can a federal agency encourage conduct it previously said was unauthorized," Jerry Strickland, communications director for Attorney General Greg Abbott, said after the FCC issued a statement encouraging the test.
The test is in response to a deluge of illegal cell phones discovered in Texas prisons. The cell phones first came to light in October when a condemned inmate made threatening calls to Sen. John Whitmire, prompting a statewide prison lockdown and shakedown for contraband that turned up hundreds of smuggled phones. Whitmire is a Houston Democrat who chairs the Senate Criminal Justice Committee.
A successful demonstration of the device was recently held in South Carolina.
Because of a federal law that makes jamming of radio signals illegal, Texas officials on Monday cancelled Thursday's demonstration of an electronic device that would do just that. In effect, the device would render a phone inside a prison useless.
But on Tuesday morning, FCC spokesman Robert Kenny surprised Texas officials with a statement proposing that Texas move ahead with the test law or not.
"We recognize the concerns of public safety regarding this complex issue, and FCC Chairman Kevin Martin remains committed to trying to work with public safety officials to address their needs," Kenny said.
Afterward, state Rep. Jerry Madden, of Richardson, planned to proceed with Thursday's test but was rebuffed.
Strickland said "what the State of Texas needs from the FCC is real action ..." the Austin American-Statesman reported Wednesday for an online story.
Strickland noted The Associated Press quoted Kenny on Oct. 21 as saying the agency "could not authorize a state to interfere with cell phone signals."
Kenny said that Martin remains "willing to work with (Texas officials) on this complex issue."