fccWho would have thought that oil wells could interfere with cell towers? Yet, in the bizarre world of RF interference – it happened!

The FCC Los Angeles Office received a complaint of interference to the reception of Sprint cell towers in Long Beach, California.

Investigation by the FCC engineers found that on December 15, 2009, the operation of oil wells located in Long Beach were emitting radio frequency signals that caused harmful interference to the Sprint Cell frequencies around 806 MHz to 821 MHz  on cellular towers nearby.  FCC agents confirmed that the interfering radio frequency signals were emanating from the pump engine spark plugs of one petroleum producer’s oil wells

Of course, such interference is not permitted, even if unintentional. Section 15.5(b) of the FCC Rules states “operation of an intentional, unintentional, or incidental radiator is subject to the conditions that no harmful interference is caused [. . .].” The operation of the oil wells created an interfering signal, which violated this section.

The oil company was duly issued a notice of violation and given a chance to fix things up post haste!

Unintended RF interference is an increasing problem in our world that is becoming more and more dependent on wireless systems. LBA has considerable expertise available for troubleshooting and correcting industrial interference – even in the petroleum industry. If you need assistance, please contact Mike Britner for an immediate assessment of your problem.

About The Author

LBA Group, Inc. has 50 years of experience in providing RF asset solutions and risk management for industrial and telecommunications infrastructure assets. The group is comprised of LBA Technology, a leading manufacturer and integrator of radio frequency systems, lightning protection and EMC equipment for broadcast, industrial and government users worldwide; the professional consultancy Lawrence Behr Associates and LBA University, providing on-site and online professional training. The companies are based in Greenville, N.C., USA.

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