Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Government Asks: When Can We Shut Down Wireless Service?

From the article: "Nine months ago, a tremendous controversy began with a simple e-mail:
"Gentlemen, The BART Police require the M-Line wireless from the Trans Bay Tube Portal to the Balboa Park Station, to be shut down today between 4 pm & 8," wrote Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) construction supervisor Dirk Peter on August 11, 2011. … In December, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced that it would launch a probe of the BART move. Central to the agency's request for comments on the matter was one simple question: "Under what circumstances, if any, is it appropriate for a public agency to interrupt wireless service?"

Reading through the many responses that the FCC received last week to this question, especially from the telcos and their representatives, it's clear that the big wireless companies are willing to shut down service—but they want the government to offer some direction. "Verizon Wireless understands that there may be some cases where shutting down wireless service to an area is necessary," the company wrote to the FCC on May 1. "In such cases, wireless carriers need a process for ensuring that the decision to shut down the network has been appropriately vetted and that the request comes from a single, reliable source." Read more