Oakland police force AT&T to disable 2G towers

August 22, 2012
6

Lately, the Oakland Police Department has been having some issues with its brand new $18 million radio system. Apparently, the police have discovered the cause of all this interference, and it seems that 2G cell phone towers owned by AT&T are at least partially to blame. Obviously, having police officers who can't communicate with one another or with firefighters is no good, and AT&T has been forced to partially disable 16 of its towers as result.

Luckily, with these being 2G towers, only a small amount of AT&T's users will be affected, as phones using 2G towers are among some of AT&T's oldest. Police officers were having trouble with radio communication all the time, but noticed that it got particularly bad when they were within a quarter mile of AT&T's towers. Even though it would appear that AT&T's towers are to blame, Oakland public safety systems adviser David Cruise tells SFGate that the investigation into the interference is still on-going:

Our investigation is continuing. This is not the end of it, for sure. There are plenty more issues we're looking at. We're working on plans to remove all of them.

AT&T isn't the only carrier whose towers are being targeted with this investigation. It may not be long before T-Mobile has to deactivate some its towers as well, as those towers use a frequency that may also interfere with police communications. AT&T, for it's part, says that it deactivated its towers as soon as it was notified that it may be causing an issue, so the company seems to be willing to do whatever it takes to get police radios functioning properly.

It's lucky that the police were able to at least partially figure out what was causing the interference, as they report that they frequently experienced outages which left them unable to communicate with dispatchers. Not being able to receive transmissions from dispatchers is a huge problem, so hopefully this solution lasts - and if it doesn't, here's hoping that the Oakland Police Department completely understands the issue soon.

[via SlashGear]


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  • Yeah Right

    Did it ever occur to you that the police radios may be to blame? I work in radio frequency and it would be negligent to assume that just one party (i.e. AT&T and T-Mobile) could be the total problem.

  • What Thuh

    I am leaning toward it being another at&t haughty and inconsiderate action or non-action where at&t has the attitude that they can impose upon and inconvenience you even if you are not a customer. They woud care less if their equipment causes interference. But just let yout equip get in the way of at&t…

  • Lie Ryan

    There’s someone to be blamed over this, whoever authorized the purchase of 18 million equipment without proper field testing. The article didn’t mention whether AT&T were using the frequency without authorization, so presuming that they were authorized to use the frequency, then the police department is at fault for choosing a frequency without checking which frequency is available with the FCC. If they weren’t authorized to use the frequency, we should be demanding some disciplinary action to be taken against AT&T, the lack of such action yet seems appalling, and seems that there must be something more to the story that we aren’t seeing.

  • Rudy Belova

    Blame is irrelevant. At&t shut them down willingly because they had absolutely no choice in the matter. The police have priority. End of story.

  • DAngelo8

    There is something missing from this story. These towers being 2G must have been around for many, many years now, but they are only causing interference recently? Why are only these particular 2G towers causing problems with police frequency when there are thousands of other 2G towers around the country? This sounds like a face saving ploy for a wireless company to shut down 2G towers so that customers with only 2G capability have to upgrade. It has previously been stated that AT&T plans to phase out all 2G networks by 2016.

  • WIRELESS DEALER

    YOU PEOPLE NEED TO LEARN HOW TO READ. FIRST SENTENCE TELLS THE STORY. Lately, the Oakland Police Department has been having some issues with its brand new $18 million radio system.