Volume 94, Issue 89

Friday, March 9, 2001


Ice T concert melts down - Poor sales, schedule conflict cited for cancellation

Car crash sends two to hospital

Bigger gut may equal smaller brain: study

StatsCan study says student debt doesn't stop schooling

Gov't considers limiting cell usage

Study identifies Net addiction

Gun violence in schools in must stop

Planet Me

Gov't considers limiting cell usage

By Lindsay Mattick
Gazette Staff

People bothered by the untimely sounds of cell phone ringing in movie theatres and other public places may be relieved to know that the government is investigating a possible solution.

Francesca Piredda, media relations adviser for Industry Canada, confirmed next Thursday the federal government will announce its plans to initiate a 90-day consulting period aimed at getting the views of Canadians on the use of cell phone silencers.

The silencers, known as cellphone jammers, are devices that allow the disabling of mobile phones left on by users, in places where cell phones may be deemed dangerous or a nuisance.

While the use of these devices is currently illegal in Canada by anyone except law and public safety enforcers, Industry Canada hopes to investigate making them legal for places like hospitals, airports and other large public areas.

The jammers would be very useful in areas such as airports where wireless signals can be dangerous as they can interfere with airport communications. "We are very interested to hear what [the government] has to say and we'd be willing to possibly consult with them as to what is possible and what is feasible," said Peter Gregg, general manager of media relations for the Greater Toronto Airport Authority

While jammers have certain safety advantages, according to director of communications for the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association, Marc Choma, they also have serious disadvantages. "Over 3 million 911 emergency calls are made a year by Canadians on cell phones – I think that most Canadians would find it unacceptable to put limitations on these devices," Choma said.

Jeremy Depow, an analyst for the Brockville-based telecommunications consulting firm Yankee Group in Canada, said he agrees cellphones should not be allowed to be restricted by jammers. "The only place that regularly uses them is Israel. They use them to block cell phones and pagers used for detonating explosives. It's a different situation," he said.

Joe Duby, manager of Waldo's Fine Dining restaurant in London, expressed support for the devices. "I equate ringing cell phones with smoking – they are both bothersome to many customers."

Duby said if the cost of the device was reasonable he would consider purchasing one.

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