As cell phone use in public places has soared, making it impossible to endure listening to mid-conversation, a small but growing band of rebels is turning to a slightly drastic solution: the mobile phone jammer, a device which completely cancels the signal transmission of all mobile phones.
Jammer technology is not entirely new, jammer exporters from overseas say the demand for jammer devices is increasing every day and they are sending more than 100 a month to the United States – prompting a close scrutiny of the matter by the federal controller and raising the interest of the telephone industries. Consumers include owners of coffee shops and hairdressers, hotels, theater operators, bus drivers and, increasingly, commuters.
The development is igniting a battle for airspace control, within earshot. And the damage will have a side effect. The insensitive chatterers impose their noise on the defenseless who are therefore forced to endure all the noise in silence. While the jammers punish not only the person responsible for the noise, but also the one who talks on the phone in a confidential way.
“If there is one thing that characterizes the 21st century, it is surely our inability to control ourselves for the benefit of others,” said James Katz, director of the Rutgers University Mobile Communications Studies Center. “The one who talks on the phone thinks his rights outweigh those of everyone else around him, while the one who carries the jammer in his pocket thinks his rights are more important.”
Wireless jammer technology works by emitting radio signals so powerful that cell phones are, therefore, canceled and are no longer able to communicate with cell phone towers. The range of action of a jammer varies from a few centimeters to several meters, and the devices cost from $ 50 to several hundred dollars. The larger devices can be left on to create a real off-limit zone for mobile phones.
The use of jammers is deemed illegal on American soil. The radio frequencies used by telephone users are protected, just as are the frequencies used by radio and television broadcasters.
The Federal Communications Commission argues that people who use jammer devices can be fined up to $ 11,000 for just the first offense. The Commission’s enforcement office has sued a handful of American companies, found guilty of supplying the devices – and not only that, but also the one who uses the jammers.
“Investigators from the Commission and Verizon Wireless visited a well-known upscale restaurant in Maryland last year,” says the owner, who refuses to disclose the name, and confesses to buying a jammer for $ 1,000. because he was tired of seeing his employees with their eyes on their phones rather than on customers.
“I told them: put away your phones, put them away, now” but they ignored him.
The owner said that Commission investigators stayed for about a week, looking for jammers using special equipment. But the owner had already turned them off.
The work of the Verizon investigator, as well as that of the Commission, proved fruitless. “Yes he went to anyone in the city and gave them his number, saying to warn him immediately, in case they had difficulty making calls” claimed the owner, who reveals, since that moment, that he has stopped using the jammer.