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.