Mobile phone & GPS jamming devices FAQ | ACMA

Mobile phone & GPS jamming devices FAQ

1. What are mobile phone jammers?
Mobile phone jammers are transmitters designed to interfere deliberately with licensed services operated by mobile carriers, including 2G (GSM), 3G and 4G (LTE) networks and equivalent services such as mobile WiMAX.

2. What are GPS jammers?

GPS jammers are transmitters designed to interfere deliberately with GPS devices, disabling the GPS device.

3. How do mobile phone jammers work?

Mobile phone jammers effectively disable mobile phones.A mobile phone works by communicating with its service network via a base station. A mobile phone jammer typically prevents the mobile phone from receiving signals from base stations. As a result, the mobile phone does not attempt to transmit to a base station, even though it may be within range.

4. Are jammers illegal?

Yes.The use, possession and operation of these devices are prohibited. An individual can be imprisoned for up to two years if found guilty of supplying, possessing or operating a prohibited device and organisations can be fined up to $270,000 (1,500 penalty units).Further, an individual can be imprisoned for up to five years if found guilty of causing interference likely to endanger the safety of another person or cause another person to suffer or incur substantial loss or damage, and organisations can be fined $900,000 (5,000 penalty units).

5. Why are mobile phone jammers illegal?

People rely on mobile phones for their communications, including conversing with friends, checking the internet, and doing simple things like banking and in jamming a mobile phone signal, access to all incoming and external mobile phone calls, but importantly, emergency services (ambulance, fire and police) is denied. In an emergency situation where time is often of the essence, a jammed signal can be the difference between life and death.Mobile phone jammers can cause serious interference to the mobile phone network.Further, consumers pay for their mobile services, and having that service disrupted – whether it is to their mobile phone, smartphone, or tablet – means that they are losing out. Work could be disrupted; phone calls and text messages may not be received, contacting a friend not possible, critical documents being saved could be lost.

6. But the jammer I bought will only jam signals of five to ten metres. What’s the problem?

Mobile phone jammers and GPS jammers are prohibited devices because of the serious risks posed by their operation, regardless of the distance.While a lot of jammers advertise that they will jam for a radius of five to ten metres, once a mobile phone or GPS device has been in range of that jammer, the phone will still appear to be working but will not be generally capable of transmitting or receiving calls until the device is turned off and then turned on again to reconnect the device to the network.

7. Can I go to prison for using a jammer?

Yes.An individual can be imprisoned for up to two years if found guilty of supplying, possessing or operating a jamming device and organisations can be fined up to $270,000 (1,500 penalty units).Further, an individual can be imprisoned for up to five years if found guilty of causing interference likely to endanger the safety of another person or cause another person to suffer or incur substantial loss or damage, and organisations can be fined $900,000 (5,000 penalty units).

8. Can I import a jammer into Australia?

No. The ACMA has established arrangements with Australia Post to detect and hand-over prohibited devices travelling in the international mail stream. The ACMA has also a similar arrangement with Customs as well as relationships with private international mail carriers to hand-over prohibited devices when detected. Between June 2010–December 2011, 279 devices were detected and handed in to the ACMA. As a result, the ACMA sent letters to the intended recipients, advising that the device they purchased online from an overseas retailer is prohibited; has been forfeited to the Commonwealth; and that penalties may apply if a person is found in breach of section 189 of the Radiocommunications Act 1992 if they are found to have purchased a prohibited device again. ACMA staff also work closely with the Australian Federal Police and state polices forces in the identification and detection of jammers. Any jammers detected by the police are handled under the various criminal sanctions relevant to the jurisdiction where the devices are detected. Since early 2010, the ACMA regularly monitors the internet to identify jammers for sale both by Australian based businesses and overseas companies.The ACMA has also written to a number of overseas companies to notify them of the legislative requirements in Australia and reinforce that sending jammers to Australia could result in the devices being intercepted. Some of the early website sellers now have disclaimers on their sites advising purchasers to check the legal requirements of the country they reside in.

9. What can I do if I suspect a jammer is causing interference to my device?

If you suspect the supply, possession or operation of a jammer, then we encourage you to contact the ACMA at the following address: interference@acma.gov.au

10. What do I do if I already have a jammer?

The ACMA, where possible, will work with people who are willing to comply with the law. If you or someone you know of has a jammer and wishes to do the right thing, please contact the ACMA via email at prohibiteddevices@acma.gov.au to discuss surrender and disposal options.

11. How can I tell if a jammer is in operation?

A disrupted signal does not necessarily mean that a mobile phone jammer is nearby. A signal loss can be caused by several factors, such as physical obstructions, heavy call volume in the area, or being outside of a service provider’s coverage or roaming area. If there are no service disruptions and there is interference to authorised communications, the ACMA’s technical staff may use specialised equipment to identify the specific location of a jammer.

12. Where can I find out further information about jammers?

The ACMA has a comprehensive webpage which can be found here.


Last updated: 02 May 2017