How to detect jammers? Check phones, voters told
Cebu voters can help detect the presence of jamming devices in their polling precincts by checking their cell phones, the regional National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) said yesterday.
“Check your mobile phones. If you can’t call or send a message in your phone even if the signal in your area is strong, then it’s possible that someone is using a jamming device,” NTC Regional Director Jesus Laureno said.
Laureno showed some jamming devices that NTC personnel confiscated from an electronics shop in downtown Cebu City. He spoke during a security meeting with police, military and Commission on Elections (Comelec) officials yesterday.
He showed a device slightly bigger than a Wi-Fi router with four antennae.
Laureno said the jammer’s range could reach several kilometers.
“All electronic devices within its radius won’t receive a signal,” he said.
A smaller jamming device can disrupt signals 10 to 20 meters near it.
Laureno said these devices made in the US, China, Hong Kong and Singapore and were being sold for P15,000 to P20,000 each.
“So far, we only seized a unit in one store but usually, they are sold in electronic shops. That’s why we are investigating that in our routine inspection,” Laureno told reporters.
Regional Comelec Director Temie Lambino said while these devices can block and delay the transmission of election results, they won’t affect the election data stored in the Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines used for voting.
He said many polling precincts experienced delay in the transmission of results in the 2010 elections.
Contingency plans are already in place if ever signals get jammed, Lambino added.
He said one alternative is to transmit voting results using the signal from a Broadband Global Area Network (BGAN) and Very Small Apperture Satellites (VSAS).
He said the jammer’s frequency will only affect the signal from telecom networks like Smart, Globe and Sun but not from the BGAN and VSAS.
“If the PCOS cannot transmit, we can use manual transmission,” Lambino said.
He said those planning to use jamming devices near polling precincts are only wasting time because they can be easily traced by the police and military authorities.
Anyone caught using a jamming device on election day faces criminal charges and a jail sentence of seven to 12 years. “We have complete security operations. We are 101 percent ready,” he added. /Peter L. Romanillos, Correspondent