recommended reading

FCC Hits Chinese GPS Jammer Vendor With Record $34.9 Million Fine

Gerald Herbert/AP File Photo

The FCC slammed a Chinese GPS jammer vendor Thursday with a $34.9 million fine, the largest in history, following reports earlier this month to a high level GPS advisory group that starkly illustrates the jammer problem: Every three or four trucks tracked at the Portland International Airport in Oregon emitted signals in the GPS band, a sign of jamming.

The FCC said C.T.S. Technology Ltd has sold jammers to U.S. consumers for the past two years, including some high powered 100 watt models that the company said can blank out GPS signals within a range of 1,000 meters, or more than a half mile. The strength of a GPS signal at a receiver is measured in milliwatts.

“Signal jammers present a direct danger to public safety, potentially blocking the communications of first responders,” said Travis LeBlanc, acting chief of the FCC Enforcement Bureau. “Operating a jammer is also illegal, and consumers who do so face significant civil and criminal penalties,” which includes fines up to $100,000.

In August 2013, the FCC fined  a trucker caught operating a GPS jammer near the Newark airport $32,000.

Logan Scott, a GPS consultant, told a meeting of the National Space-Based Positioning, Navigation, and Timing Advisory Board in Washington on June 3 that some truckers use GPS jammers to disable GPS tracking systems installed by fleet managers. He added that truckers hauling hazardous waste may use GPS jammers in order to avoid taxes and fees.

On March 5, Rohde &Schwarz USA, a  manufacturer of mobile radio test and measurement equipment,  set up a monitoring van on a highway south of the Portland airport and determined that “about every third or fourth truck was radiating at or near the GPS L1 [frequency of 1575.42 MHz].” This included a tandem trash hauler truck, whose driver continued to operate the jammer even after he was caught, Scott said.

Kama Simonds, a spokeswoman for the Portland airport, said the airport was unaware of the March GPS jammer monitoring experiment and subsequent report.

The FCC, in its enforcement action against C.T.S, said the company offered jammers designed to knock out vehicle tracking systems and has more than tripled the number of jammers on offer for sale in the U.S. from 78 in 2013 to 285 today. Despite the record fines against C.T.S., a Google search for GPS jammers results in thousands of hits for websites offering the devices for sale – with some priced as low as $25.

Threatwatch Alert

Thousands of cyber attacks occur each day

See the latest threats

JOIN THE DISCUSSION

Close [ x ] More from Nextgov
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from Nextgov.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Modernizing IT for Mission Success

    Surveying Federal and Defense Leaders on Priorities and Challenges at the Tactical Edge

    Download
  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

    Download
  • Effective Ransomware Response

    This whitepaper provides an overview and understanding of ransomware and how to successfully combat it.

    Download
  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

    Download
  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.