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L.A. Building's Lights Interfere With Cellular Network, FCC Says 158

alphadogg writes "When a certain Los Angeles office building lights up, it's a dark day for nearby cellphone users, according to the Federal Communications Commission. Fluorescent lights at Ernst & Young Plaza, a 41-story tower near the heart of downtown, emit frequencies that interfere with the Verizon Wireless 700MHz network, the agency said in a citation issued against the building owner. The FCC's message comes through loud and clear in the filing: the building owner could be fined up to $16,000 a day if it keeps using the interfering lights, up to a total of $112,500. The alleged violation could also lead to 'criminal sanctions, including imprisonment,' the citation says."
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L.A. Building's Lights Interfere With Cellular Network, FCC Says

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  • by Tom Hek ( 1082667 ) on Sunday February 09, 2014 @11:51AM (#46202795) Homepage
    Switching transformers that are out on the market nowadays put out all sorts of crap, including noise on those frequencies. In Europe, police in the Netherlands and other countries search for illegal marijuana growers by scanning the RF band for strange noise from the transformers used for the lamps, sometimes they even get discovered by the cable companies that get complaints about channels not working or with a fuck load of noise, etc.
  • by nurb432 ( 527695 ) on Sunday February 09, 2014 @12:11PM (#46202915) Homepage Journal

    If they continue to use the bulbs, yes the building owners are at fault. They cant just point the finger elsewhere once they have been notified.

  • by mysidia ( 191772 ) on Sunday February 09, 2014 @12:28PM (#46203005)

    Isn't this a case where the manufacturer of the fluorescent fixtures needs to fix them so they don't emit interference?

    That only works before the person/company operating the fixtures is informed of the interference: once informed, they must disconnect the fixtures and cease operating them immediately --- otherwise, they are liable for potential forfeitures or criminal sanctions.

  • by maxwell demon ( 590494 ) on Sunday February 09, 2014 @12:32PM (#46203027) Journal

    Why not something more specific.

    comp.misc.slashdot perhaps?

    You clearly don't know Usenet rules. A more specific group for comp.misc would be comp.slashdot. Which could then be split up into comp.slashdot.developers, comp.slashdot.ask, etc. with comp.slashdot.misc for the stuff that doesn't go into one of the more specific groups.

    However given the group creation rules (assuming they are still enforced), it would be easier to create alt.slashdot instead of comp.slashdot (alt.ALL is a hierarchy with much more relaxed group creation rules).

  • by grumling ( 94709 ) on Sunday February 09, 2014 @12:58PM (#46203179) Homepage

    As Verizon (especially) lights up LTE they bring in trucks that look for problems in the 700MHz bands. They are taking a proactive approach to cleaning up the band before RFI causes problems. This makes sense since LTE uses QAM and high symbol rates to push data, meaning that the carrier to noise requirements are much higher than 3G. Most cable companies use the same frequency band, up to 750MHz. To make matters worse, cable systems use QAM carriers too, so the demodulators can get confused and pick up the wrong carrier.

    Cable companies monitor their plant for signal egress from broken coax, cracked housings, poor craftsmanship, etc (leakage), but usually around 115MHz, in the aeronautical bands (since there's been cases of planes lining up on leaks instead of the glide path). Because some types of leaks are frequency dependent, a system that looks great in the aeronautical band might leak like a sieve at 700MHz. In fact a certain set top box happened to have vent slots that made a perfect antenna at 700MHz. []

  • by PuckSR ( 1073464 ) on Sunday February 09, 2014 @01:03PM (#46203221)

    What are you talking about? Imprisoning executives? Do you understand how FCC regulations work?

    Very simple. The FCC is the "radiowaves police". If you get pulled over in a brand new car that has a faulty speedometer which is showing your speed as 20 mph slower than reality, the cop is still going to write you a speeding ticket ticket. Sure, it is the manufacturer's fault. The traffic cop's job is to make sure everyone is driving at the correct speed. The traffic cop isn't going to drive back the manufacturer and write them a citation.

    The end-user IS ALWAYS responsible for using equipment that interferes. It doesn't matter if he bought it legally. It doesn't matter why the interference is being caused. If you have a transmitter that is causing illegal interference, you are responsible. This just makes sense. Even if they went back to the reseller or manufacturer; that doesn't fix the problem in the "here and now". The only way to fix the immediate problem is to compel the end-user to STOP TRANSMITTING.

  • by mspohr ( 589790 ) on Sunday February 09, 2014 @03:15PM (#46204185)

    TFA stated that the light ballasts were made by GE and that they were aware of the problem and had a procedure to replace them.
    Probably this is an issue of who is going to pay to replace all of the ballasts... this won't be cheap.

  • by sjames ( 1099 ) on Sunday February 09, 2014 @05:01PM (#46205035) Homepage Journal

    In this case, the fixtures are GE branded. GE has admitted that some of that model have a defect.

No problem is so large it can't be fit in somewhere.