CellAntenna Selectively Blocks Prison Cell Waves, Doesn't Block Outside World

If you have a tendency to be afraid of "The Man," you just might get jumpy after hearing this. It's one of the most two-sided, polarizing issues we've seen to date in the technology world, and no, we're not talking about Apple vs. Microsoft. It's over the battle to remove cell phones from the hands of prison inmates; no matter how tight security is, some inmates still end up with cellphones in their hands, and it's pretty obvious that no one who loves their safety wishes that trend to continue.

In order to hopefully put a stop to it the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) authorized the first federally sanctioned test of cell phone signal jamming technology inside the Federal Correctional Institution in Cumberland, MD using CellAntenna technology. You'll probably understand that cellphone jamming is illegal is most cases, as it essentially cuts off one's ability to dial 911 or some other emergency number should they get in trouble near a jammer.

But those rules don't really apply to prisons, or at least they don't now. What's interesting about the new technology is that it can somehow jam the prison lines, but not the outside world just outside of its gates. According to CellAntenna, "jamming can be surgical enough to block illegal signals without affecting cell phone communications outside the prison perimeter." The demonstration of the technology is wrapped into a bill, which is currently awaiting House approval that would enable state authorities to use cell phone signals jamming devices in prisons. Today, only Federal agencies can use the technology. Howard Melamed, CellAntenna CEO, had this to say about the situation:

"The issue of contraband cell phones inside America’s prisons has reached pandemic proportions, and this test is a big step toward ending the deaths and illegal activities that can be linked back to convicts with cell phone reception. The Federal government and the NTIA are acknowledging the fact that cell phones in prisons pose a deadly and unnecessary risk to citizens. This test should be a wakeup call for legislators and corrections departments everywhere, because it proves that cell phone jamming is a solution for making our prisons safer."

We can't totally say that we disagree, and we're all for prisoners keeping their thoughts to themselves. What do you think about the matter?

Via:  Business Wire
travisz 4 years ago

go for it!

Movie theaters too!

Inspector 4 years ago

LOL i never imagined a prisoner smuggling a cell phone in to well prison. Big Smile

I was never able to use my cell phone in some theaters and i got no clue why -.-

rapid1 4 years ago

A one way cellular transmission wall interesting. I think it would be more effective if they let them all have phones which had to operate on set frequencies. Then they would be able to monitor them with keyword searches and call area channels. I think the law could get a ton of useful information from that. I mean come on yes felons will have friends and family that are not, but on the friends side at least I will bet after they go to jail all they have is at least to a very great degree, friends who are also involved with criminal activities.

rapid1 4 years ago

Yes they say cell phones are rampant in correctional institutions. Someone will smuggle one in (from what I have heard generally females because they have a hidden and unsearchable compartment) for there boyfriends or male friends/relatives. Then everyone (prisoners) uses them while the smuggler or whoever talked her into doing it will pay the account cash so there is no trail. There are several individuals in jail (usually gang or mob related) who still run the organization while behind bars with this method of communication. So it would seem to me to be invaluable information for law enforcement, rather than just blocking it use it.

ClemSnide 4 years ago

@inspector: It's probably more due to other reasons, such as the fact that a lot of multiplexes are built far enough away from civilization (and therefore cell towers). I don't know that the construction techniques would be natural cell-phone blockers, as they are in older houses, but based on the number of conversations taking place during the quiet parts of movies, that may not be the case. (Fortunately I've pretty much given up on megablockbusters; the audiences for independent films have enough brain cells that they do remember to turn them off, or at least pay attention to the polite warning beforehand.

You'd think theater audiences would be the same way. However, I was in a community theater production and in the middle of the confrontation with the murderer (community theater productions are always murder mysteries for some reason), someone's phone went off and they automatically answered it. Well. I jumped off the stage, grabbed it, and barked "Mr. President? No need to worry, sir, I'm on the case!" and snapped the clamshell phone shut before proceeding with the scene as if nothing had happened.

It was the first standing ovation I ever received.

Getting back to the topic at hand, though: This is kind of a no-brainer. Prisoners do give up certain constitutional rights while incarcerated, and even after; the fourth amendment is famously one of these. (Pause while everyone looks it up on Wikipedia.)

I have to wonder how "surgical" (as it's termed in the article) the technology is; because a surprising number of prisons are in residential and commercial neighborhoods. The residents of our Chinatown (successfully) protested a prison that was to have been built less than a quarter of a mile away from an elementary school. So if you have a prison near your kids' playground, maybe you can blame cell phone cutoffs on that!

realneil 3 years ago

I say use the jammers and even if they do interfere with calls near prisons, too bad. Any Prison that I've ever seen has huge land areas that are fenced in all around the facility. As for using a cell at the movies of theater, it's in bad form and people who do it should be asked to leave.


Clem, I would have given you the standing ovation as well. (you're my kind of smart-ass).

AKwyn 3 years ago

I'd have to say no; while it would eliminate and help prevent crime, it would also leave those potential criminals out in the open. I mean if we don't have the information than we can't catch these guys and we can't further prevent crime; I agree with what rapid1 says, seeing as how he's at least been in an institution or knows how the trade works.

Outside of the jails, I'd have to go against cellphone blocking at all. I mean you may find it bothersome that a guy is yapping on his cellphone when you want to enjoy the movie but I feel the best solution would be to enforce the rules shown rather then taking drastic steps to stop the annoyance and therefore encourage the behaivor we have now. (which is cellphones should be banned from theaters) I mean cellphones have their place when it comes to emergencies and I feel like we shouldn't let someone die just because cellphones ruin our enjoyment of the movie. Sure it's annoying but do you want people to die because no one could call 911 in a timely matter?

EonathanLelt one year ago

Cell phone jammer is an interesting and helpful device when we don’t want to be bothered by the cell phone noise. I just bought myself a cell phone jammer the other day ,it is working great and BTW, it’s legal here in my country.

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