SpectrumTalk has moved!

25th Anniversary of FCC Decision Enabling Wi-Fi and Bluetooth

25th Anniversary of FCC Decision Enabling Wi-Fi and Bluetooth
A series of posts describing how this all came about. (Click on picture above)

Friday, May 29, 2009

CTIA Has a Hard Time on Today Show Prison Jamming Segment

On May 12, John Walls, Vice President, Public Affairs of CTIA had a hard time on NBC's Today Show on the topic of cell phone jamming in prisons. The YouTube version of the video is linked to the photo above so you decide for yourself how it went.

Carl Lackl, murder victim featured on Today Show Segment
His murder was ordered by an inmate over a cell phone.

The segment featured the sister and mother of Carl Lackl, a murder trial witness who was in turn murdered as a result of a hit ordered by an incarcerated prisoner.

At 4:20 of the YouTube clip, you can hear Mr. Walls saying it is "outrageous, actually insulting" that people feel that the cell industry is making a profit on prison cell calls. He also says that there are "other viable legal solutions that should be looked at". So, CTIA, why have you rigorously opposed even the smallest scale test of prison jamming? Why do you cling to an FCC staff interpretation of Section 333 of the Communications Act that does not appear to be consistent with the legislative history of the section - a section requested by FCC itself in 1990 for a different reason?

I suspect the issue is not the revenue from prison cell phone use that CTIA member get. (Although oddly a source that CTIA itself had put me in touch with reported that his monitoring of cell phone use showed that prison cell phone calls may be a big revenue stream for Tracfone - a firm that buys minutes wholesale from the major CTIA members in large quantities and then resells them for prepaid, usually anonymous cellphones.) I suspect the issue is really a "slippery slope" problem where the industry's main concern is that jamming might move from prisons where cell phone use is dangerous to society to other places where it is merely annoying such as restaurants and theaters. Such movement would make cell phones less functional and thus really hurt revenue.

But rather than deal with the slippery slope issue, CTIA has chosen to cling to their Section 333 interpretation and the technological nonsense that any jamming, not matter how well planned, will inevitably result in interference to others. CTIA - if radio propagation in the CMRS bands is so unpredictable, how is the industry been able to achieve such huge increases in frequency efficiency through frequency reuse. Why do femtocells work without causing interference?

Thus we have Sen. Hutchison's legislation, S. 251 and Rep. Brady's House version, H.R. 560.

But maybe FCC can address the root problem of this issue before Congress steps in. A legislative solution will inevitably involve details that will become problematical as the industry and technology evolve in the next few years. An FCC solution should be a lot more pragmatic and CTIA should realize it has a major "home court advantage" in shaping the details if the resolution of this issue is at FCC.

CTIA - this is a blog, feel free to respond. Any language fit for broadcast media will be printed in full.

1 comment:

Bob@weller.org said...

If you can get a shoulder-mounted bazooka close enough to a prison to shoot a cell phone into the yard, I think the prison system has bigger problems than cell phones.