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Tuesday, April 29, 2014

FCC Proposes $48,000 Fine To Man Jamming Cellphones On Florida Interstate

From the FCC"An individual who had been jamming cellphone traffic on interstate 4 in Florida was located by FCC agents with the assistance of Hillsborough County Sheriff's Deputies. The individual had reportedly been jamming cellphone traffic on I-4 for two years.

The FCC is now proposing a $48,000 fine for his actions. They say the jamming 'could and may have had disastrous consequences by precluding the use of cell phones to reach life-saving 9-1-1 services provided by police, ambulance, and fire departments.'"  

While the fine is large, it is not unprecedented: last August (2013) a New Jersey man named Gary Bojczak, who worked for a construction company in Northern New Jersey was fined $32K for an illegal GPS jamming device that disrupted the Newark airport system on multiple occasions.  The FAA and FCC spent two years (March 2009 to April 2011) locating the source of the jamming at Newark Airport.

Wireless jamming is considered to be more than an inconvenience or nuisance, and is treated as a significant threat since it can disrupt critical and emergency communications, terrestrial and satellite communication such as GPS tracking systems that are required for everything from aircraft, personal or vehicular location to systems requiring financial trading.  It can also potentially affect military operations.

As GPS can be negatively impacted over a wide area by a relatively small jammer, alternative technologies such as eLoran and MEMS (microelectromechanical systems) are being investigated as a secondary location signal provider.  This will only continue to be more critical as self driving vehicles, commercial drones and intelligent highway system usage continues to expand.