Mobile phone jamming devices

The Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association (AMTA) supports the Australian Government’s ban on jamming devices that block out mobile phone signals. The Australian Communications Authority (ACA) has declared mobile phone jammers to be prohibited devices under the Radiocommuncations Act 1992. The prohibition makes it an offence to operate or supply, or possess for the purpose of operation or supply, such a device. The ACA said it was concerned about the substantial long term social costs that could arise if mobile phone jammers were allowed to proliferate.

AMTA believes mobile phone jamming devices could potentially cause serious harm. The devices could have fatal consequences if someone was prevented from using their mobile phone in an emergency because it was being jammed. Mobile phones regularly make life saving differences in alerting fire crews, ambulances or search and rescue personnel.

In emergency medicine, the first or ‘golden hour’ has long been established as critical to the probability of victim survival in cardiac arrest and serious trauma. A mobile phone call can make all the difference in these instances where time is of the essence or when people do not have access to a fixed line phone.

New industry figures show almost half of all emergency calls to ‘000’ in Australia are made from mobile phones. And a study by Simon Chapman, Professor of Public Medicine at the University of Sydney, clearly demonstrated the enormous benefit of mobile phone technology in emergency situations. For instance, the study found that one in four mobile phone users have used their phone to report a dangerous situation.

Furthermore, mobile phone carriers have a legitimate licence to provide services to their customers and their customers pay good money for the right to use their mobile phone without interference from a third party. Marketing materials for some of these products claim that all mobile phones could be ‘jammed’ within a distance of up to four kilometers. If these claims are true, the potential for disruption to legitimate mobile phone services is enormous. Conceivably, one jammer could inadvertently take out the whole business district if incorrectly installed or used. Obviously, there could be serious consequences if a jamming device fell into the wrong hands.

AMTA encourages mobile phone users to be considerate and aware of situations where using their phone might cause problems to others. Features such as text messaging answering services, call diversion and vibration alert can be used to receive important calls. Venues can also assist by reminding mobile phone users of the etiquette of mobile phone use, however, enforcing mobile phone etiquette by installing jamming devices in public places is clearly not a well thought out option.