How To Jam Cell Phone Signal Legally

Posted by on February 24, 2016

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A Faraday cage was set up by Wilson Electronics at CES to demonstrate how well its latest signal booster, the weBoost Eqo booster works. The Faraday cage or popularly known as the "Faraday shield" is an enclosure formed using conductive material such as a mesh made of a grounded metal screen to block electric fields which include mobile transmissions. It was successfully demonstrated that using a signal booster, the cell phone signal can be increased from no bars to five bars by attracting cellular waves from outside the cage and distributing them indoors using the weBoost Eqo cell phone booster kit. However, like inside the quiet Faraday room without Eqo cellular amplifier powered on, it would also be nice to have some peace at certain other places where cellular interruptions are frowned upon - without of course using the weBoost Eqo cell phone signal booster because that would defeat the purpose!

Imagine a perfectly quiet movie theater with no whispered conversations or clicking of keyboards…

Leave alone movie theatres, consider TMI in the grocery store! TMI meaning, "too much information". We have all had those moments of desperation, whether it was in a movie theater, in line at the DMV, in our favorite aisle of the library, or even at a grocery store, when you're forced to overhear a conversation that really would have been best suited to remain behind closed doors, and all we can think is how much better it would be if we could block cell phone reception in a 10 foot radius around us. How glorious would that be?

We have seen cell phone jammers being made and sold from China, and used in plenty of movies and television shows, so it stands to reason that the technology is available. And if it really is just as simple as pushing a button, then why aren't movie theaters and libraries utilizing these products to ensure peace and quiet and an overall enjoyable experience for anyone looking to read a book in silence, or watch a movie without that one person who refuses to get off their cell phone?

It seems like a no-brainer for anyone in those industries. But the idea of cell phone jammers is actually a very serious matter, and one that could land you in loads of trouble if you don't pay attention to the legal consequences of disrupting cellular reception.

Are cell phone jammers legal or illegal? If illegal, how can they be used without breaking the law?

Intrigued by some of the buzz that this topic has generated online, it seems as good of a time as any, to burrow deep into this rabbit hole and attempt to piece together the puzzle of why cell phone jammers exist, why people might want to use them, and why some countries, such as United States, have made them illegal to use, own, or even sell. However, later in this blog, we will look into some passive and legal ways to legitimately and safely block cell phone service, without bringing a whole host of authorities to our doors. To fully understand how, let us examine and establish a few basic facts and concepts regarding this topic.

Why do people want to jam cell phone signals?

Seriously? I could probably name over a hundred times when I've thought to myself, "I so wish that there was no cell phone reception here!" Whether it is someone interrupting a movie that I have been dying to see since it was released in the theater, someone getting a little too friendly with their significant other over the phone as they're walking through the grocery store, airport, etc., or someone talking away on their cell phone in the bathroom stall next to me, there seems to be no end to the discomfort and irritation that cell phone reception can cause on a regular basis.

But these are the more common scenarios that might lead one to wish for that magical button that would simultaneously cause all cell phone reception in a nearby area to miraculously drop. Let us look at some slightly more creative situations.

• Hello? The light is "green"! But the driver is calmly texting on the phone. Or worse - texting while driving, phew!
• Disrupting a bus full of people while arguing over the phone.
• Using your phone in a hospital where it is specifically posted not to talk on cell phone.
• Trying to write your first award winning novel at your favorite coffee shop while the person in the booth behind you won't stop gossiping about the girl trying to hit on her boyfriend.
• When you're actually trying to pay attention to your professor and learn something instead of texting away on your phone like 40% of your classmates.

The list goes on and on. There are so many times when it seems like it would be a good idea for some cell phone jammers to be brought in so that everyone can learn, drive, study, or relax in peace. It has occurred to me on one or more occasions that it might be nice to actually eat dinner in a restaurant where cell phones aren't allowed, or go to a show that won't let you in if you have a cell phone in your pocket or purse.

We live in a society that thrives on cell phone usage. We keep them on hand 24/7 in case we need to look something up to win an argument, get an important text or email that couldn't wait an hour for us to check, or take a selfie of whatever it is that we're doing that we feel all of our Instagram followers should know about. Our cell phones have found ways to become a part of every single aspect of our lives. And while they have done a great job at connecting us with friends and family around the globe, and helping to organize our lives, we have all had movie experiences ruined by an overzealous texter.

Why don’t more places use cell phone jammers?

The answer is simple: Using cell phone jammers is illegal in the United States. Not only has it been classified as a form of stealing, but the FCC considers these products to be of concern to public safety.

Is Cell Phone Jamming a Form of Theft?

Due to the rising interest in cell phone jammers, the FCC released a statement in November 2015:

"In recent years, the number of websites offering "cell jammers" or similar devices designed to block communications and create a "quiet zone" in vehicles, schools, theaters, restaurants, and other places has increased substantially. While these devices are marketed under different names, such as signal blockers, GPS jammers, or text stoppers, they have the same purpose. We remind and warn consumers that it is a violation of federal law to use a cell jammer or similar devices that intentionally block, jam, or interfere with authorized radio communications such as cell phones, police radar, GPS, and Wi-Fi. Despite some marketer's claims, consumers cannot legally use jammers within the United States, nor can retailers lawfully sell them."

While not specifically explained in their statement, the key to why cell phone jammers are illegal is in the phrase "authorized radio communications". Cell phone providers pay for the signals to be broadcast out to their paying clients via radio waves. This means that they have a contract with the government to provide particular services on specified radio waves. When a cell phone jammer comes along and floods those radio waves with so many similar signals that cell phones are unable to tell one from the other, they are technically stealing those radio waves from the cell phone provider and, in turn, from the US government.

Confused yet? I certainly was. Let us take a simpler approach to why cell phone jammers are dangerous and illegal. One of the greatest benefits of cell phones is that they help us feel safe. They ensure that help is only a phone call away. And thanks to speed dial and voice commands, often the help we need is only a single button or a spoken word away ("Call Mom").

Cell phone jammers would make it impossible to call for help in times of crisis. They would also make it impossible for someone to reach you in case of an emergency. Maybe you decided to stop in to the library to pick up a couple more pregnancy advice books before your wife gives birth… Unfortunately there's a cell phone jammer in the library and so your wife's frantic calls saying that she's in labor go unanswered! Talk about starting the day off on the wrong foot…

How to Passively Obstruct Cell Phone Signals Without Obstructing the Law

The very things that prevent us from receiving good cell phone reception in big buildings with thick walls can be the answer to our prayers. If you're looking to build a cell phone free library, movie theater, restaurant, etc. and want to go about it the legal way, then consider your building location and materials. Refer to the Faraday shield example provided at the very beginning of this blog post.

Branden Ushio from examiner.com recommends the passive approach to cell phone blocking.

"There are some legal ways that you can block cell phone signals, but they are a little more difficult to do, and are definitely not portable. The first method would be to place a thick steel plate between the cell phone and the associated tower. This blocks the signal. It needs to be heavy and needs to be fairly large. For example, in the National JACL Credit Union office in Salt Lake City, there's a conference room underneath their safety deposit boxes. While the conference room is not directly underneath the boxes, they do a great job of blocking the signal.

Another good passive cell phone signal blocker is water. Although this seems like it would be difficult to erect a wall of water somewhere. The Network Technician for Granite School District that is in charge of installing WiFi access points, which use signals similar to cell phones explains that new brick construction uses a larger number of access points due to the high water concentration still drying in the middle of the brick."

Yes, this route isn't great if you're looking for more of a portable device that will give you a peaceful ride to and from work every day, but these are things to consider if you're a business owner, and it won't bring the wrath of the FCC. However, if you're a business person that purchased or leased such a property and want to be able to communicate freely yourself using a cell phone, call us to buy a cell phone signal booster!

Another option to consider if you're one of those people who just cannot stand all the noise on their daily commute, is to invest in a pair of noise cancelling headphones. You might miss your stop if you're not paying attention, but I guarantee that you won't be bothered by the person sitting next to you, hashing out the problems in their current relationship with their best friend.

You will be able to enjoy the peace and quiet of absolute silence as you read your book, meditate and prepare for your day, or simply do your best not to stress out prior to walking into your office. It is completely understandable to want some time to yourself before being thrown into your busy day at the office. A good pair of noise cancelling headphones will give you just that.

Which Building Materials Block How Much Cell Phone Signal?

Peak cell phone signal strength performance is at -50 dB (closest to cell tower with no hinderances) whereas -110 dB signal strength would signify practically "no service" or zero to 1 bar. Indoors, most cell phones already have only approximately -90 dB of signal strength but work reliably even with such low signal strength. As you can see from the list of building materials and their impact on signal, reinforced amounts of such materials can easily block quite a substantial amount of signal rendering most cell phones unusable in most areas (one can indeed stand beside an open window or stick out their cellphone out of the window to get strong and clear reception).

Building Material 800 MHz Cellular Band 1900 MHz PCS Band
1/2" Drywall 2.03 dB 2.43 dB
Venetian Plaster 7.91 dB 16.22 dB
6" Concrete Wall 10.11 dB 19.41 dB
Glass Window 4.35 dB 4.38 dB
1/4" Fiberglass 1.62 dB 1.90 dB
Low Emission Glass Window 33.8 dB 33.8 dB
Brick 7.57 dB 14.66 dB
Solid Wooden Door 6.11 dB 12.33 dB
Hollow Wood Door 5.39 dB 10.11 dB
1/2" OSB Plywood 3.27 dB 4.91 dB
1/2" Solid Pine 2.01 dB 5.05 dB
1/2" Solid Oak 4.68 dB 6.11 dB

Note below how the cell phone signal strength already decreases as a cellular device is further away from the cell tower. Compound effect of building materials listed above to see how they will further dampen the mobile reception of cellular devices in an enclosure such as building material reinforced room or practically any enclosed space.

Cell Phone Signal Strength Range Decreases As Device Is Further Away From Cell Tower

Let’s recap - What have we learned today?

Using a cell phone jammer device will give you more trouble than it is worth. While you might enjoy a quiet bus ride or your next movie theater experience in complete silence, the FCC is very clear in their statement on the legality of cell phone jammers. No ifs, ands, or buts.

Therefore, if you're looking for a natural and passive way to discourage cell phone usage within your residence or place of business, then look to your surrounding structure. If you're looking for a new location to build your business, consider where the closest cell phone tower is, and try to place yourself somewhere that is obstructed by a hill, lots of large buildings, or at least as far away from it as you can.

Alternatively, if you're just trying to get away from the annoying conversations, the loud clicking on keyboards, and the constant streaming of movies and music through all these portable devices, consider some noise cancelling headphones and a couple of audio books to help ease your commute.

While I can't predict the future, if our society continues down the road that it seems to be traveling on, cell phones will only continue to gain popularity and functionality within our lives. And while I didn't have a cell phone until I was eighteen, many children are learning to navigate cell phones as they learn to read and write, which means that their significance will only continue to grow, as will our dependence on them.

Though I desperately wish that common courtesy trumped this dependence within schools, libraries, movie theaters, and yes, even public bathrooms, more often than not, it doesn't. While I don’t believe that the phrase "If you can't beat 'em, join 'em" necessarily fits here, receiving a fine or jail time from the FCC for using a cell phone jammer so that you can enjoy the latest Star Wars installment in the local movie theater truly isn’t worth it either.

Questions? Call us for a FREE product recommendation. Need a cell phone booster installer? We offer installation services by a certified installing team that installs boosters nationwide across USA and Canada. Submit your details for a quote to have your amplifier kit installed by professionals.

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