FCC Targets Jamming Device Marketers

Last week the FCC Enforcement Bureau cited 20 on-line retailers of signal jamming devices in Omnibus Citation and Order DA 11-1661 for "marketing in the United States a total of 215 uniquely described models of cell, GPS and other signal jamming devices in violation of section 302(b) of the Communications Act3 and sections 2.803 and 15.201(b) of the Commission's rules."

The Bureau emphasized that because signal jamming devices can affect all communications on the frequencies being jammed, their use in a public place (classroom, theater, church, restaurant, or other such locations) could block emergency calls to first responders or the family members of someone in distress.

Each retailer was directed to take immediate steps to cease marketing signal jamming devices. The Website links are listed in the Omnibus Citation and Order.

In spite of a potential fine of up to $112,500 per any single act, some sites are continuing to offer the devices. For example, on Oct.13 yapperzapper.com still shows their "mini cell phone jammer", which the Website says, "is ideal for meeting rooms, conference rooms, museums, galleries, theatres, concert halls, churches, temples, restaurants, classrooms, training centers, factories, banks, trains, buses etc…."

The Website claims that the device works in GSM, CDMA, DCS, PHS and 3G spectrum, blocking signals from AT&T, Sprint, Verizon and others. I was able to click through links to a PayPal order page, although it appeared some of the Webpages were still in development. The price listed is $109.

"Our actions should send a strong message to retailers of signal jamming devices that we will not tolerate continued violations of federal law," said Enforcement Bureau Chief Michael Ellison. "Jamming devices pose significant risks to public safety and can have unintended and sometimes dangerous consequences for consumers and first responders."

Doug Lung

Doug Lung is one of America's foremost authorities on broadcast RF technology. As vice president of Broadcast Technology for NBCUniversal Local, H. Douglas Lung leads NBC and Telemundo-owned stations’ RF and transmission affairs, including microwave, radars, satellite uplinks, and FCC technical filings. Beginning his career in 1976 at KSCI in Los Angeles, Lung has nearly 50 years of experience in broadcast television engineering. Beginning in 1985, he led the engineering department for what was to become the Telemundo network and station group, assisting in the design, construction and installation of the company’s broadcast and cable facilities. Other projects include work on the launch of Hawaii’s first UHF TV station, the rollout and testing of the ATSC mobile-handheld standard, and software development related to the incentive auction TV spectrum repack.
A longtime columnist for TV Technology, Doug is also a regular contributor to IEEE Broadcast Technology. He is the recipient of the 2023 NAB Television Engineering Award. He also received a Tech Leadership Award from TV Tech publisher Future plc in 2021 and is a member of the IEEE Broadcast Technology Society and the Society of Broadcast Engineers.