Plug Pulled on Cell-Jamming Demo
A controversial cell-jamming demonstration scheduled for last month in Washington, D.C., was not conducted.
The demonstration was supposed to highlight technology from CellAntenna designed to jam cell signals. In a Dec. 16 letter to then-FCC Chairman Kevin Martin, D.C. Department of Corrections Director Devon Brown noted that inmates use contraband cell phones while in custody to “engage in highly pernicious behavior” such as intimidating witnesses and coordinating criminal activity — actions that could be stopped by jamming cell signals.
The FCC had approved the demonstration, during which CellAntenna was supposed to show that directional jamming could be used within a detention facility without harming other communication signals in the surrounding area, according to Brown’s letter.
But many in the wireless community believe such jamming technology inadvertently would interfere with communications conducted by users other than inmates. CTIA, the trade association representing U.S. wireless carriers, submitted a filing with a federal appeals court to block the demonstration, describing the FCC’s order approving the event as “flatly illegal” and the “very essence of arbitrary and capricious agency decision-making.”
CTIA said “there has not been a shred of evidence presented to the commission that the demonstration will not interfere with legitimate uses of the wireless spectrum, including those beyond the facility.”