Illegal transmitters impact on telecom services

Posted Dec 12, 2017 by Tim Sandle
Illegal transmitters, such as radio frequency identification tags and signal boosters, which operate outside of approved frequencies, are disrupting communications services and affecting business operations.
The record for wireless data transmission now stands at 6Gb/s due to the use of new high-power E-ban...
The record for wireless data transmission now stands at 6Gb/s due to the use of new high-power E-band radio transmitters
Fraunhofer IAF / Jörg Eisenbeis, KIT
The process of disrupting telecommunications is a form of hamming. This can be, in a small number of cases, a deliberate attempt to jam a transmission. More often, according to the U.S. Federal Communications Commission, jamming arises unintentionally when an operator transmits on a busy frequency or when equipment accidentally radiates a signal.
The degree to which telecom services are affected depends on the types of transmitters, the technology that the legitimate telecom services uses, and the region.
Illegal radio frequency sources
One area affected recently has been in the Philippines, where a study reported on by ABS-CBN news, and conducted by Globe Telecom, found that over 1,200 cell sites had not operated correctly due to illegal signal sources. The main problem was with calls ‘dropping out’ and communication lines becoming garbled.
Venezuelan Radio Station
Yaracuy 1090 am radio station in Venezuela.
Maintaining good communications is essential for business and for this reason the government in the Philippines is taking action. In relation to this General Counsel Attorney Froilan Castelo is quoted as saying: “While illegal signal boosters may enhance wireless coverage in a particular area, such devices, when improperly designed or installed, will cause interference with mobile networks and thus will impede communication services, including emergency calls in the community.”
A notice has been issued prohibiting the sale, purchase, importation, possession or use of signal boosters operating on the 800 megahertz, 900 MHz, 1800 MHz, and 2100 MHz frequency bands.
Telecom companies respond
Some telecom providers have taken measures to combat the issue of interference. NTT DOCOMO and MediaTek, for example, have come together to create a chipset with enhanced spectral efficiency. This chipset brings together DOCOMO's non-orthogonal multiple access radio access technology and MediaTek's multi-user interference cancellation technology.
Life at Google
File photo: An employee on her computer at Google's head office.
Photo courtesy Google
The way this works, according to Telecom TV, is that NOMA multiplexes signals at a base-station transmitter in order to leverage the increased signal processing capacity of user devices. This also cancels out interference among multiplexed user signals. Following this, MUIC removes interference from other users when a base station transmits a signal to a several users simultaneously.
5G and future proofing
In relation to future proofing it is anticipated that 5G networks will be less prone to interference risks from radio transmitters. 5G will operate in bands between 24 and 40 GHz, giving it a far wider range than 4G. 5G is also expected to make use of mesh networking, which uses intervening mobile devices to reach a unit that would otherwise be out of range. Moreover, 5G, according to Phone World, could be used to transmit data over the unlicensed frequencies currently used for WiFi; this is without interfering with existing WiFi networks.
This photo  taken with a fisheye lens  shows a server room.
This photo, taken with a fisheye lens, shows a server room.
Jonathan Nackstrand, AFP/File
Start-ups are also focusing on measures to reduce interference. The new company Jeeva Wireless, for example, has experimented with small sensors, transmitting signals using a special modulation technique, to backscatter data over greater distances than is currently possible. This means that it will be easier to build huge networks of sensors and to put in place a signal modulation scheme based on the ‘chirp spread spectrum’, which aid the reduction interference from external sources.