30 Nov 2009

Church ordered to pay up for blocking cellphones

8:01 pm on 30 November 2009

An Auckland church that tried to stop cellphones from disrupting its prayers has been ordered to pay $1250.

The Ministry of Economic Development has confirmed the unnamed church in Mount Albert was issued with an infringement notice for using a jamming device to block incoming calls.

A spokesperson for mobile phone company Vodafone says the rights of its customers have been protected.

Tom Chignell says Vodafone complained because customers near the church were losing calls at a much higher rate than normal.

Mr Chignell says the Ministry of Economic Development used its own equipment to pinpoint the source of the interference.

The ministry says broadcasting messages or a signal to block other messages is illegal without a licence.

This is to preserve radio frequencies for allocation to essential services or to legal broadcasters who pay for the privilege.

The only organisation allowed to use jamming devices is the Department of Corrections to stop prisoners from plotting crimes.