From The Sip Trunking Experts

[February 28, 2006]

Blocking system for cell phones, pagers being developed

(Chicago Tribune (KRT) Via Thomson Dialog NewsEdge) CHICAGO _ The intrusion of cellular phone rings into theaters, schools and nearly every other nook and cranny of modern life may soon hit a wall.

Playing to the backlash against ubiquitous communication, a company called NaturalNano is developing a special high-tech paint that relies on the wizardry of nanotechnology to create a system that locks out unwanted cell phone signals on demand.

The paint represents a dream to those who seek a distraction-free movie or concert experience, and a nightmare to those who compulsively monitor their BlackBerries.

It is also another breakthrough application of nanotechnology, the emerging science of harnessing submicroscopic organisms for everyday uses, like stain-resistant pants and transparent sunblock. The National Science Foundation has predicted that nanotechnology eventually will be a trillion-dollar industry.

"You could use this in a concert hall, allowing cell phones to work before the concert and during breaks, but shutting them down during the performance," said Michael Riedlinger, president of NaturalNano of Rochester, N.Y.

His firm has found a way to use nanotechnology to blend particles of copper into paint that can be brushed onto walls and effectively deflect radio signals.

The copper is inserted into nanotubes, which are ultratiny tubes that occur naturally in halloysite clay mined in Utah. The nanotubes are about 20,000 times thinner than a piece of paper, too small to be seen with even a conventional microscope. At this size, which is near the molecular scale, materials have different physical properties than they normally do.

By filling these tubes with nanoparticles of copper, the company can create a medium to suspend the signal-blocking metal throughout a can of paint without significantly changing the way the paint adheres to a surface. NaturalNano will combine this signal-blocking paint scheme with a radio-filtering device that collects phone signals from outside a shielded space, allowing certain transmissions to proceed while blocking others.

Even the thought of such a thing upsets the wireless phone industry.

"We oppose any kind of blocking technology," said Joe Farren, spokesman for The Wireless Association, the leading cell phone trade group. "What about the young parents whose babysitter is trying to call them, or the brain surgeon who needs notification of emergency surgery? These calls need to get through."

Farren said any scheme to selectively block calls is illegal.

But Robert Crowley of AMBIT Corp., which designed the radio-filtering device for NaturalNano, said the system is legal. The nanotech-augmented paint that blocks signals is a passive device, not an illegal radio jammer, he said.

The radio filter would allow enable all emergency radio communications to pass through the shield, Crowley said. With all other signals, like cell phones, the filter would act like a spigot to block or allow them to pass through _ say, only during intermission.

"There'd be no limitation of public-service radio access," he said.

Crowley said there's a lot of pent-up demand for people to have more control of the radio space in their own buildings. His Ashland, Mass.-based firm, which develops equipment to enhance cell phone reception inside moving vehicles, often hears from such people.

"Our number one request comes from churches," he said. "Pastors want a way to stop cell phones ringing in church and people taking calls during worship services."

School administrators would also want to keep students from taking cell phone calls or sending text messages to one another during class, he said.

Most schools ban cell phone use in class, but administrators would like more control over wireless traffic.


Bill Smith, director of instructional support services for Sioux Falls, S.D., schools said his district is interested in NaturalNano's signal-blocking paint because administrators are worried about what would happen in the event of an emergency in a school.

"During a crisis, students using cell phones would overwhelm the system, making it impossible for administrators to use cell phones to call authorities," Smith said. "I don't know if there's a way to manage that."

Smith said students are allowed to have phones in their backpacks or lockers, but if they use a phone during class, the device is confiscated and their parents are called.

"That works pretty well," Smith said. "Whether we'd want to install a system to add further control would really depend on how much it cost. We run a pretty austere system."

Even though they're illegal, jamming devices that emit radio signals to prevent cell phones from working are widely available, said Tim Kridel, a wireless industry analyst.

"You can find plenty of jammers on the Internet that are shipped from other countries," said Kridel. "But using them risks getting into trouble with the Federal Communications Commission."

The wireless industry spokesman, Farren, said that jamming doesn't seem to be a major problem.

"But it's hard to detect," Farren said. "Nothing shows up on your phone that says `Your signal's being jammed.'"

Based on phone inquiries and Web site visits, AMBIT's Crowley said many people apparently want a legal way to control wireless bad behavior.

"We tell pastors they can't be bashful about asking their congregation to turn off their phones, because there's nothing else available," he said. "The system NaturalNano proposes would be a cost-effective alternative."

But even though cell phones can be a nuisance, not all pastors seek a technical solution.

"I've had them go off during a service, although it's rare," said Tom Allen, pastor of the Bible Fellowship Church in Yardley, Pa., and an associate professor at Philadelphia Biblical University in Langhorne, Pa. "I use humor or just ignore it. Obviously, the person is embarrassed. One ring reminds everybody else to check their phones.

"I've never heard that it happened twice in one service."


(c) 2006, Chicago Tribune.

Visit the Chicago Tribune on the Internet at

Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services.

For information on republishing this content, contact us at (800) 661-2511 (U.S.), (213) 237-4914 (worldwide), fax (213) 237-6515, or e-mail

[ Back To SIP Trunking Home's Homepage ]

Subscribe here for your FREE
SIP TRUNKING enewslettter.

Featured Partner

Featured Whitepapers

SIP Security for the Enterprise
Voice over IP (VoIP) is incorporated into a variety of computer networks, both public and private, and used for everyday transactions and communications among carriers, businesses, government agencies...

Making A Broadband Purchase Decision
Businesses today have many options for broadband connectivity. Clarifying your particular business needs prior to selecting a broadband provider will ensure an optimal match of broadband service to your requirements.

Voice-Optimized Network Delivers Premier Call Experience
Customers equate call quality with business quality. Real-time communication, interpersonal interaction, and the cordial tone of a call center representative can create a positive impression of your business that no email can match.

Featured Case Studies

Business Telecom Expenses Reduced 50%
A small to medium sized company in the midwest was interested in migrating to IP Communications, but in today's economy, they were hesitant to upgrade their communication system due to their perception that the cost would outweigh the benefits.

Multi-State Company Cuts Telecom Costs 50%
A multi-site, multi-state company with extensive monthly long distance fees and toll-free charges did not have adequate broadband for Broadvox SIP Trunking requirements, nor did they have a SIP enabled telephone system.

Discover Leisure Connects Remote Users to its IP-PBX
Discover Leisure is one of the largest resellers of caravans and motor homes in the UK. With 15 branch of?ces all over the country, the company spent a great deal of money every month just on internal phone calls.

Featured eBOOKS

Internet+: The Way Toward Global Unified Communication
Connecting the telephony of the enterprise PBX or Unified Communications (UC) system using SIP trunks instead of conventional telephone lines has been very successful in recent years.

What is SIP Trunking? Edition 2
SIP trunking is becoming more of a focus for service providers. One key issue many service providers face when deploying SIP trunks is NAT, or Network Address Translation, traversal.

What is SIP Trunking? Edition 1
A vast resource for information about all things SIP - including SIP, security, VoIP, SIP trunking and Unified Communications.

Featured Videos

Broadvox VAR Testimonial VAR 1:
Part 1 of the VAR (Value Added Reseller) Partner Program Testimonials for Broadvox...

E-SBCs AS The Demarcation Point:
Ingate's Steve Johnson talks to Erik Linask about the role session border controller plays as the demarcation point at...

Demystifying DPI
How can deep packet inspection protect your SIP traffic as well as your entire network?

Featured Resources

Partner Program Overview:
Over 4,000 VARs, Master Agents, Solution Providers, and Independent IT Professionals trust Broadvox. We offer customized services and solutions to fit seamlessly into any company's business model. And when you partner with Broadvox, every member of our team stands behind you and your customers 100%...

SIP Trunk UC Summit

What's New

Presenting the New Ingate/Intertex Website:
Internet+ is an extended Internet access allowing high quality SIP (Session Initiation Protocol) based real-time person-to-person communication, everywhere and for any application. It applies to both fixed and mobile networks ...

Featured Blogs

Featured Webinars

Secure SIP Trunking:
What You Need to Know

Successfully Deploying Enterprise SIP Trunking:
Tools and Techniques for Overcoming Common Roadblocks

Featured Podcasts

Getting the Most Out of Your SIP Trunks:
Ingate's Steve Johnson and TMC's Erik Linask discuss how best practices forgetting the most out of SIP Trunking services and common pitfalls to avoid.

Featured Datasheets

Ingate SIParator E-SBCs
Adopting SIP is a simple process with the Ingate SIParator, the secure enterprise session border controller (E-SBC). The SIParator makes secure SIP communications - including VoIP,SIP trunking and more - possible while working seamlessly with your existing network firewall.

Ingate Firewalls
Everyone is talking about enterprise usage of VoIP, instant messaging and other types of realtime communications including presence and conferencing.

SIP Trunk Solutions for Service Providers
The award-winning Ingate Firewall and Ingate SIParator deliver a high quality, reliable SIP trunk connection between the customer's IP-PBX and the service provider network, and solve interoperability issues to simplify deployments and support for remote diagnosis of reported issues.