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FCC on the hunt for cellphone signal jammers

Posted: , by Nick T.

FCC on the hunt for cellphone signal jammers
Do you always turn off completely your cellphone when entering the movie theater? Sometimes we forget to do it too. Maybe that is why signal jammers have started to gain popularity among some businesses and people who feel like one may come in handy.

For those of you who are not familiar with the matter, signal jammers are those tricky gadgets that some schools and theaters have started resorting to in order to prevent nearby cellphones from receiving or making calls. Texting doesn't work either as the carrier's signal gets completely blocked. Although it truly is annoying when somebody's cellphone rings out loud in the middle of a company meeting, the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) has pointed out that signal jammers may actually impose a serious health risk for everybody who is having their signal cut off by one at the wrong moment.

Signal jammers may not allow an emergency 9-1-1 call to be placed and therefore cause many unwanted consequences for the sake of somebody's comfort – this is officially the FCC's primary reason to stand against the use of such devices. Federal law already forbids the usage and distribution of signal jammers, and the FCC has announced about a month ago that it is stepping up its enforcement against them. Violators are to face thousands of dollars in fines along with getting their equipment taken away and may even face doing time in The Big House.

Maybe the FCC is becoming way too strict, and all that it takes is some discipline on the consumer's side in terms of knowing when to switch to silent mode. Or do you think the prohibition of cellphone signal jammers is quite necessary? Feel free to drop a comment below and let us know.

source: FCC via Engadget

33 Comments
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posted on 11 Mar 2011, 08:20 1

1. Droid_X_Doug (Posts: 5921; Member since: 22 Dec 2010)


Well, FCC does have authority over radio transmissions and the jammers do in fact produce radio transmissions.... I suspect there will be a certification program where for a FEE, a jamming device that meets certain requirements (such as allowing the placement of 911 calls) will receive an exemption/certification.

posted on 11 Mar 2011, 09:10 3

2. sniperace (Posts: 95; Member since: 20 Aug 2009)


Signal jamming is just wrong! We live in a day and age where for many of us a cell phone is our main way of being contacted. It's not all about being able to call 911. Someone may need to inform you about a bad accident a loved one just got into. Your mom,dad, husband ,or wife on the brink of the afterlife and you got the call almost 2 hrs latter....Because a signal jammer in a movie theater, resturant, public libraries. Where does it end?.

posted on 11 Mar 2011, 09:25 5

3. hawk62 (Posts: 320; Member since: 21 Nov 2009)


You are wrong. They should use them. If you are that worried, then dont go.

Do you check for service in every building you go in? If you see no service, do run out to make sure the world is still ok?

posted on 13 Mar 2011, 08:54 1

20. donpeppino9 (Posts: 67; Member since: 24 Jan 2010)


Im sorry but wat you're saying is the worst thing... nobody should be allowed to jam your signals unless your the FCC or the cell phone companies.

posted on 14 Mar 2011, 09:50

22. jbash (Posts: 342; Member since: 07 Feb 2011)


I agree. I use my hard earned money to have service on my cellphone. I totally disagree with blocking signal becasue of small percentage of idiots out there were raised without etiquette or manners.

posted on 22 Oct 2012, 17:00

27. choochoo (Posts: 2; Member since: 22 Oct 2012)


There is more than a small amount of idiots that abuse cell phones in an establishment. I pay good money to watch a movie at the theatre and some but hole gets a call and continues to talk while sitting in the theatre. This has happened over 10 different times.

posted on 03 Jan 2014, 18:31

31. blokemall47 (Posts: 3; Member since: 03 Jan 2014)


Man after my heart. Humans are the weirdest animals on this planet. Just a very short while ago, cell phones didn't even EXIST! Now, people treat them like their an appendage on their body. If people are so concerned about getting calls, they should stay home and keep their hands on their phones. Just look at all the accidents being attributed to cell phone use. People just don't care. Need to learn and obey the Golden Rule.

posted on 22 Mar 2011, 21:43

23. AccidentVictim (unregistered)


I am a motorcycle accident survivor. If your life depended on someone paying attention to the road or getting a phone call from thier kid letting them know they were out of kool-Aid, which would you prefer? I think the Federal Government should make it mandatory for each and every vehicle on the road to be equipped with a cellular jamming device that is active when the vehicle is in drive. This would allow you to send or receive cellular calls and text messages only when your car is parked.
Getting ran over by a car/truck/suv hurts and requires costly surgery and loss of a paycheck while recovering. Think about the families who has lost loved ones because of drivers texting or chatting away on the phone.

posted on 11 Mar 2011, 11:18 3

4. LAK9 (unregistered)


I think if you are entering into private property, ie. move theater, restaurants the owners have the right to limit what they want. If you don't like that decision, then you have the choice of not patronizing their establishment.

posted on 11 Mar 2011, 11:49 1

5. snowgator (Posts: 3276; Member since: 19 Jan 2011)


IF the FCC approves a variation to a signal jammer, then sure these places can use them. Yes, they are private property- sorta. These places cator to the public, and therefore have to accept certain regulations concerning their buisness. They have to provide certain safety concerns (properly lit and accessable exits, fire extinguishing systems, some require AEDs), and are not allowed to refuse entry based on color, race, ect, although they can protect themselves against drunk, disruptive people by posting that they can refuse service to anyone. I would assume that any use of a jammer would have to be public knowledge, sorta like any X-ray machine in a hospital or clinic has to be posted to allow all patients/public to know it's use and location.

posted on 11 Mar 2011, 11:57 3

6. box (unregistered)


I think that instead of banning/blocking them, they should regulate them and charge fees as a way to take in money.
Personally, I think that the jammers are fine if used moderately, say a small one in each theater room rather than one for the entire theater complex, for instance. That way users can go to the lobby or outside and get reception, in case of emergency or to call for a ride, for example.
Furthermore, humans got on just fine for many many years before cell phones, and if there were an emergency, there's still landlines at such places that use the jammers

posted on 11 Mar 2011, 13:59

7. snowgator (Posts: 3276; Member since: 19 Jan 2011)


Solid. Ever consider sending a resume to the FCC?

posted on 11 Mar 2011, 15:21 4

8. anarkie (Posts: 48; Member since: 28 Jan 2009)


I wanted to get a portable one to keep in my car. Damn, there goes that idea.

The minute some idiot on their phone cuts me off or almost swings into me because they're not paying attention... disconnect for 30 seconds.

I'm against NOT having them in the right situations. CT has a law against hand held cell phone use. But nobody cares. They use them, while speeding, never using a GD turn signal, and all around being crappy, disrespectful, drivers. Hell, even cops use their phone hand held. Don't even try to tell me they need to. They have several radios for communication. They're just being _____holes.

posted on 03 Jan 2014, 18:34

32. blokemall47 (Posts: 3; Member since: 03 Jan 2014)


A big AMEN to you, anarkie. Cell phones should be used for emergencies ONLY. If you think you just have to talk to someone, go pick them up and you can have them face to face. Get tired of them, drop them off and get another talker. STAY OFF THE PHONES!!

posted on 11 Mar 2011, 15:58

9. downphoenix (Posts: 2378; Member since: 19 Jun 2010)


not just this, but signal jammers also illegally make your phone accept interference. If you ever read one of those lables on the back of the device, here's hoping they put a stop to this crap.

posted on 11 Mar 2011, 16:14 1

10. JammerStammer (unregistered)


Radio Jammers should be outlawed, not only it blocks cell phones it also blocks people with medical devices, which can be dangerous. yes we were all fine before cell phones, but then again people smoked in theaters before.

posted on 11 Mar 2011, 17:01 1

11. codymws (Posts: 237; Member since: 17 Jun 2010)


I think they should be able to be used in certain areas and situations, such as schools. I'm sure there are kids out there who use their cell phones to cheat on tests or homework. I have nothing against kids having cell phones, just some ways they use them.
I'd say they should be allowed in movie theaters too, but I honestly haven't ever had a problem with someone talking on the phone during a movie. And if there's a family emergency or something there could be a problem if a call couldn't be made or received.

posted on 11 Mar 2011, 17:40

12. ericf (unregistered)


So if my school keeps them could i call the cops on them?.

posted on 11 Mar 2011, 17:51

13. rfrapp (Posts: 77; Member since: 10 Jun 2010)


If jammers are allowed to be used then who knows who will buy and use them? Terrorists already have a lot of technology. Why would we hand them new tech on a silver platter?

posted on 22 Oct 2012, 16:54

26. choochoo (Posts: 2; Member since: 22 Oct 2012)


Why would a law keep terrorists from doing anything?

posted on 05 Jan 2013, 11:54

28. enve215 (Posts: 1; Member since: 05 Jan 2013)


how wou.d terrorists not have them? it is legal to buy and use in other countries just not in the united states I found out the hard way bought and paid for one online and waited months for it just to receive a letter from us customs stating that my signal jammer was confiscated and I would not be receiving it

posted on 03 Jan 2014, 18:37

33. blokemall47 (Posts: 3; Member since: 03 Jan 2014)


Don't try to use terrorists as an excuse. Most of them are better educated than anyone in this country. Our new tech is old to them anyway.

posted on 12 Mar 2011, 02:22

14. Whateverman (Posts: 3231; Member since: 17 May 2009)


I hope the FCC goes through with it. There is no need for any company or business to block my signal. Maybe law enforcement, but that's it. You never know what kind of emergency may arise outside of that movie theater or school that may need your attention.

posted on 12 Mar 2011, 05:30 2

15. GlennO (unregistered)


I have no problem as long as there are signs posted that the establishment uses jammers. If I don't like their policy, I can always go to another establishment.

posted on 12 Mar 2011, 20:08

18. ShereenaJ (unregistered)


Seriously??? what if your favorite place in the world JUST got a signal jammer? wouldnt you hate to choose another establishment just because they have them? But then again, you seem like a person who doesnt mind change... im just sayin :)

posted on 12 Mar 2011, 11:23

16. Cool (unregistered)


Better yet would be to legislate the need for handset manufacturers to BUILD-IN a kill switch which would allow signals to operate normally but shut phones off in allowed (maybe court order needed too?) places/areas. This way, signal could be operable normally while limiting who might use the signal in designated places/areas. Exemptions could be obtained... and those with exemptions, such as doctors, LEO's, etc, could obtain the means necessary to bypass the kill/shut down. Hardware control would certainly offer a better operation than just plainly jamming signal.

It's all about control... and yes, those establishments wishing to USE the kill switch would have to register, declare their need and obtain licenses to do so. Building Codes could come into play so that the use of such equipment would not interfere with nearby businesses or likewise who chose NOT to do the same. Quality of life issues, sensitivity, etc., can all be encompassed, such as library's, places of worship, hospitals, etc. Hell... even the LEO's could use it at rally's and such to disable the potential for MASS Civil Disobedience via text... lol, a recent and LARGE issue they face! I'm sure there could be hundreds of examples where someone may want to use such a handset "OFF" function. Licensing and use would also cover all the necessary bases such as proper notification to the public at large that they are entering the kill zone, etc., etc., etc...

These would cover all the bases and still not disrupt signal where it might be needed... For those using it illegally now, well they KNOW the risks and any associated consequence in using such devices, shame on them.

Just my $.02

posted on 12 Mar 2011, 19:59

17. ShereenaJ (unregistered)


I bet a terrorist invented this. LMAO. I mean common sense, before inventing this, they shouldve wighed out the pros and cons for such device. I see it as an invitation for terrorist to use this device towards pentagon and shut off all of their communcations to take over the world! Seriously, to take a terrorist down, you gotta think like one. You know what i mean??? Seriously!!!

posted on 13 Mar 2011, 03:26 1

19. Alex (unregistered)


Signal jammers are not the solution plain and simple. There are far too many reasons NOT to have a signal jammer than to have one. The only reason for movie theaters to have one is the inconvenience of a phone going off during the movie. Solution? More of those "cell phones ruin movies, please turn your phone off or to silent during the movie" ads. I am not opposed to those and although I usually turn my phone off, there have been times I forgot and that ad reminded me to do it.

911 isn't the only reason to need a cell signal. Perhaps the call you need to receive or text you need to receive isn't life-threatening but is important such as "I can't pick up the kids after school, can you do it?" and if you're in the middle of a movie and your kids are more important then you're more than likely going to leave the movie and go get the kids. There are other reasons like texting buddies what seat you're in so they can find you, asking someone to get you something from the concession stand while they're out, etc. It isn't always a matter of life or death but it would be better not to have them.

I attend lots of movies and I've yet to have a single cell phone ruin the movie for me. There are far more distractions going on that require immediate attention than a cell phone going off since most phones get silenced rather quick if the owner is unfortunate enough to have it be theirs that wasn't silenced.

People throwing things, loud kids, babies/toddlers making noise, couples making out, excessive coughing, oral copulation(seen it multiple times), obnoxious laughers with bad timing, etc.

Keep in mind the loss of revenue theaters would suffer if people found out they were using cell jammers(whether used clandestinely or in plain sight) just because the people would feel as if their "rights"(yes I know it's a privilege not a right that's why I put rights in quotes) to have their cell phone work in a movie theater are being infringed upon.

I could probably come up with more but that's all for now.

posted on 14 Mar 2011, 08:49

21. Rawrzellers (Posts: 224; Member since: 22 Aug 2010)


I remember my 5th grade teacher telling us when her son had a seizure in a movie and how it took them like 10 minutes to get someone to call 9-1-1 for them because they didn't own a cellphone at the time.

posted on 04 Dec 2011, 16:51

24. fabulous801 (Posts: 1; Member since: 04 Dec 2011)


GOVERNment = Monopoly.
We own as much share of "the air" as the government yet they are the only one making money off it.
We should be entitled to do what we want with the air within our private property included broadcasting in it and not allowing certain people to broadcast within it.
Wireless signal is measured in "noise" just like voice, which is similar to somebody speaking.
You should be entitled to broadcast jamming signal within your private property.
Not being allowed to broadcast within our private property is like not being allow to speak...think about it folks.
We need to start reclaiming what BELONGS to us from the get go instead of begging the government to help us with more useless statutes and regulations and more money for their pockets.
You're in my house if I want to shut your cellphone up so what? If you're not happy just walk out!

posted on 09 Aug 2012, 19:52

25. yrutoostupid (Posts: 1; Member since: 09 Aug 2012)


It should be a law that jammers should be installed in all automobiles, they would only allow the use of a cell phone when the vehicle is in Park....I know this is harsh but I am tired of being put in danger by people who are so ignorant they think that it is actually possible to text and drive at the same time....sorry but you did it to yourselves and you know who you are....stupid!!!

posted on 17 Jul 2013, 17:26

29. HelenaHanbasket (Posts: 1; Member since: 17 Jul 2013)


I HATE to be in a theater and have phones lit up in front of me gaming or texting during the movie, much less people TALKING on the phone.... Theaters HAVE PHONES IN THEM. If you have an emergency, GO GET HELP. If I go to a theater, I WILL USE A JAMMER. Think that's rude? Think how rude things were that led me to make this decision!

posted on 25 Nov 2013, 15:00

30. jammed (Posts: 1; Member since: 25 Nov 2013)


i like the idea of having it jammed. at work I see lots of ppl talking on phones when they should working for money they r getting paid to do the work. and txting should never be allowed at work.

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