The agency slapped the Chinese manufacturer with a heavy fine — $34,912,500 – on Wednesday “for marketing 285 models of signal jamming devices to U.S. consumers via its Aiswa.com website,” wrote the Enforcement Bureau’s Marlene H. Dortch in a four-page Forfeiture Order on Wednesday.
“These devices, which were advertised for sale to U.S. consumers, were designed to disrupt a variety of communications systems, including all major cellphone networks, WiFi systems, and even Global Positioning System (GPS) channels,” Dortch wrote. “Some of the more dangerous devices were advertised as having the capacity to jam communications for a distance of over one-half mile. C.T.S. Technology in fact sold several of these high-powered jamming devices to undercover FCC personnel, who had posed as consumers, and shipped the equipment to the United States.”
The FCC’s letter was fiercely more emphatic than the typical enforcement letters, primarily because of the clear mayhem such a device has the potential of committing.
“Signal jamming devices overpower, jam, or interfere with authorized communications. They can endanger life and property by preventing individuals from making 9-1-1 or other emergency calls, interfering with the communications of first responders such as police officers and firefighters, or disrupting the basic communications essential to aviation and marine safety. Jammers also prevent consumers and businesses from engaging in numerous, daily lawful forms of communications, ranging from simple one-on-one phone conversations to the use of GPS-based map applications to social media use. For these reasons, signal jammers are illegal. They may not be marketed to the public and have no lawful consumer use within the United States.”
The possibility of such a weighty fine has loomed since mid-June 2014, when the FCC sent the Guangdong-based company its first Notice of Liability. Since then, additional correspondence has been sent to C.T.S. through a number of international channels and the company has failed to respond to the FCC. It has, however, changed its website advertising to eliminate possible U.S. sales. Still, the FCC is hot under the collar and determined to get its fine collected. The company has 30 days to pay up.