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CURRENT STORIES


FCC needs to address growing problem related to cell phone use

The Federal Communications Commission has been in the news of late because of its recent efforts to deregulate the media industry.

But as The Washington Post reported recently, the FCC faces a far greater issue -- dealing with problems arising from the increased use of mobile phones.

While convenient for consumers, mobile phones are beginning to play havoc with emergency radio frequencies. Emergency agencies -- police, fire and medical -- across the country have reported instances when communication has been interrupted by "dead" spots they blame on wireless phone interference, the Post reported.

Fred Smart, director of the Harrison County Office of Emergency Services, said it is a local problem to a degree.

"It's worse in bigger areas because you have so many cell phone frequencies," Smart said. "But it's been a problem here."

Smart said the proliferation of cell phone towers clustered near one of his transmitters on Lowndes Hill was causing too much "radio noise."

"We actually relocated the transmitter to avoid problems," Smart said.

While Smart and other area agencies aren't facing as big a problem as metropolitan areas, the likelihood that cell phone usage will only continue to increase makes the issue a problem for all of us.

The FCC has said it will find a solution, but the Post quoted industry officials who said that could cost hundreds of millions of dollars and take years to complete.

Much of the problem stems from having both emergency agencies and cell phone companies in the 800 megahertz band, Smart said.

To help fix the problem faster, the FCC is considering reshuffling assigned bands.

It's important to note that cell phone companies are not to blame. They are operating within the law, and are working with the FCC to find a solution.

Hopefully, the FCC has put this issue at the top of its agenda and can find a solution quickly.

The thought that a cell phone call might keep someone needing life-saving assistance from receiving it is not acceptable in today's high-technology age.

John G. Miller