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General Scanning Discussion For general questions not specific to a model of scanner or general discussion of use of a scanner. Location specific posts should be directed to the regional forums listed below.

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Old 03-23-2008, 6:32 PM
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Default Cell Phone Band Capable Scanners.

Hello All!
I was sitting quietly on my recliner reading the april issue of Monitoring Times. I was fine until I read the "Ask Bob" column by Bob Grove. As if the cell phone monitoring topic thing has not been beat to death 1000 times over, a person asks Bob the following question;" I was told that my Realistic Radio Shack scanner had been modified to pick up cell phones but it doesnt pick up mine. How come?" No name/location given. Now I know what most of you are thinking when you see a question like this being asked. I felt the same way. Lets get past this for a minute and focus on Bobby boys' response. This is what got me going. " Chances are that your cell phone is digital, and no scanner made has cellular digital decoding. Regardless,modifying a scanner so that it picks up cell phone frequencies is unlawfull. (So far ok. The next part is what gets me) A scanner with cell phone frequency coverage cannot be inported, SOLD, manufactured, OR EVEN POSSESSED BY AN ORDINARY CITIZEN ACCORDING TO LAW." Now I am no legal expert but when did it become illegal for me to own a scanner that can tune to that band that was made BEFORE the ban was placed? Second, if I had such a scanner, when did it become illegal for me to sell such a radio at a Ham fest, flea market, or even my own front yard at a tag sale for instance? According to that statement, there are a few hundred thousand of us that are breaking the law by merely "possessing" such a scanner at home as "ordinary citizens". I dont think he did it on purpose but to put out such a half truth on a national magazine is purely irresponsible. I wont bother writting to them since Bob Grove and his web site are so intertwined with the magazine. Again, most of us tenured scannists know better than to even bother with the cell phone band. It just bothers me when people put out half truths. The selling part referes to businesses or companies that make or manufacture or deal with scanners as a business like Rat SHack for example. Second if I was stopped in front of someones home or at an incident scene, in my car, with a scanner tuned to the cell band then I undertand that there may be an issue at that point. But merely being the owner or having a scanner with me that is "capable" of tunning to that band but not actively doing so is NOT illegal. Now on the subject of "importing", dont even get me started on the companies over seas that "successfuly" import cellular capable scanners into this country without any problems.



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Old 03-23-2008, 6:57 PM
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There are a lot of screwy laws.. apparently it's also not legal to sell a 23 channel CB radio either. Oops, too bad I bought one (7 years ago though).

-josh
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Old 03-23-2008, 7:50 PM
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Bob Grove is obviously an armchair lawyer. Just cuz he says it doesn't make it so.

I know he's god-like to radio enthusiasts and everything, but a lot of times I think he's a little out there.

Airdorn
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Old 03-23-2008, 8:20 PM
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I've never been a fan of his! I am also not personaly attacking him as a person as I am atacking his lack of explanation in his responses. I mean when you write for a nationaly recognised magazine like that, you have to be truthful and acurate. what he wrote was only partialy true and partialy a lie. Again, I dont think the majority of the people who have been around this hobby since that ban era are going to be fooled, but its just the point of being misleading.

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Old 03-23-2008, 8:31 PM
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I'm not a subscriber of Monitoring Times so I haven't seen the article, but I doubt he is intentionally misleading anyone. He may have not worded it correctly, and you probably misinterpreted it but I would surely not call it a "lie." I am sure he is well aware that it is legal to own a scanner that is capable of receiving the cellular band as long as it was made before the ban was in place. It sounds to me that his intent is to be speaking of scanners that have been modified to be able to receive the cellular band. If a scanner has been modified in any way that makes it non-compliant with FCC rules, it is illegal for anyone to sell, own or posess it.
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Old 03-23-2008, 8:57 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Airdorn
Bob Grove is obviously an armchair lawyer. Just cuz he says it doesn't make it so.

I know he's god-like to radio enthusiasts and everything, but a lot of times I think he's a little out there.

Airdorn

Oh god, why did he publish this crap? Its just going to prevent any future moves to repeal the ban on the 866mhz section.

I mean he did testify before congress when that sleezball reporter was listening to Gingrich and had to stop modifying scanners to pick it up, so I assume he knows his stuff, but why perpetuate it. People hear that some nutcase is even remotely intersted in listening to cell convos and they rightfully get worked into a tizzy. No one understands that there hasnt been monitorable traffic on that band in half a decade at least!

Seriously, if it wasnt illiegal, I would propose that RR members nationwide that have 800mhz cell capable scanners and log ANY cell traffic they hear. The scanners ARE out there, but the people that own them dont care that they cell coverage is there. They never cared when there was cell traffic there either. I'm tempted to stick my SC-150 on a discone and run through the "banned" band and if there is ANY traffic what so ever, I will immediatly destroy my perfectly capable scanner on the spot with a hammer. I am that certain that there is NOTHING there to hear.
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Old 03-23-2008, 9:06 PM
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No where in the law does it state that it is illegal to possess a scanner capable of receiving cell phone frequencies. Pure crap. I still own more than one and have had them long before the law went into effect. I welcome Mr. Grove to produce this in writing and post it here but I am willing to bet it won't happen because he put his foot in his mouth on this one.
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Old 03-23-2008, 9:44 PM
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Why the cell phone topic is even an issue is beyond me. With analog cell gone, let people who want to listen to digtial noise listen to it.
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Old 03-23-2008, 11:38 PM
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Default Don't count me among your "few hundred thousand ordinary citizens"

Analog may be dead where you are, but it is not dead nationwide. OnStar runs over the analog cellular system, along with whatever - admittedly a dying breed - analog wireless devices are left out there.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Raven95150
I'm not a subscriber of Monitoring Times so I haven't seen the article, but I doubt he is intentionally misleading anyone. He may have not worded it correctly, and you probably misinterpreted it but I would surely not call it a "lie." I am sure he is well aware that it is legal to own a scanner that is capable of receiving the cellular band as long as it was made before the ban was in place. It sounds to me that his intent is to be speaking of scanners that have been modified to be able to receive the cellular band. If a scanner has been modified in any way that makes it non-compliant with FCC rules, it is illegal for anyone to sell, own or posess it.
Thank you, Raven.

The technical term, once a radio device has been changed in order to facilitate a violation of law or regulation, is that the device in question is no longer FCC "type accepted."

SCANdal


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Old 03-24-2008, 12:05 AM
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I remember when modding a scanner and listening to cell calls made alot of people mad. I always thought that it was funny when people got mad cause you choose to listen to cell phone calls. Anyhoo, you have to be pretty stupid not to know that your conversations are/were transmitted through the airwaves and can be listened to. Boy the ham operators would get so mad. I used to go to the ham swaps and talk to the hammies about modded scanners and enjoy the reaction I got. Go ahead ham operators- hammer and insult me now. lol..

Rocky
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Old 03-24-2008, 2:01 AM
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Grove misspoke. I think what he really meant was that it is illegal to *THINK ABOUT* modding, possessing, and/or using a scanner for monitoring cell phone calls.

So don't do it!
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Old 03-24-2008, 7:01 AM
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One of scanernutt's first question was when did listening to cell converstaions or modifying a scanner to receive cell communicaitons become illegal. The genisis of this was the ECPA (Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986).

This has been ammended over time, but basically the act precludes the government (without a court order) or private individuals from listening in to other persons cellular or cordelss phone conversations. It also made illegal listening to radio or TV station remote broadcast feeds (like airborne traffic reports or news crew dispatches).

I forget when scanners were barred from receiving cellular channels, probably at the same time or shortly thereafter. Laws against modifying scanners followed. I recall the mod for the PRO 43 was cut a small diode.

I have two scanners that I bought PRIOR to the law being passed, one is an ICOM R-1 and the other is an AOR that are continuous coverage, including the cell band. The R-1 is broken and I haven't used the AOR in probably ten years. It kept drifting off frequency.

As I recall the law, old scanners were grandfathered, but listening is still 'illegal'.

As cell phones move out of the 800MHz band, Congress needs to reconsider blocking those frequencies. Until then we are ...
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Old 03-24-2008, 7:04 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rocksteady
Go ahead ham operators- hammer and insult me now. lol..
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Old 03-24-2008, 7:14 AM
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Default Cell Phone Band Capable Scanners

Can someone explain to me on how someone would know what you listening to? be it cell phones cordless phones or the police dept
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Old 03-24-2008, 7:30 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by midnightcaller
Can someone explain to me on how someone would know what you listening to? be it cell phones cordless phones or the police dept
If you disclose information, it's pretty easy to tell. Otherwise, yeah, keep your yap shut, and no one knows to care. What they're unaware of won't hurt them in 99% of cases.
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Old 03-24-2008, 7:36 AM
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LEH!
If you look again at my original post, I NEVER asked " when did it become illegal to listen or to modify a scanner to listen to cell phones". I am VERY well aware of what the law is regarding both. I personaly do neither. I just did not like the lack of information and the false statements that Bob Grove Grove gave to the person asking this question. Anyone new to the hobby reading that would think that merely "owning" or "possessing" such a device is illegal and you could neither sell it nor buy it as an ordinary citizen.

Manny
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Old 03-24-2008, 8:38 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SCANdal
Analog may be dead where you are, but it is not dead nationwide. OnStar runs over the analog cellular system..."
Not any more. GM turned off analog OnStar last month. Check the archives.
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Old 03-24-2008, 9:25 AM
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My company had to replace around 1500 analog cellular alarm transmitters by Fed 2008. We did it free for out customers, and we were humored to find out that OnStar was trying to charge something like $100 to their customers for the same issue.

Airdorn
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Old 03-24-2008, 10:44 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LEH
One of scanernutt's first question was when did listening to cell converstaions or modifying a scanner to receive cell communicaitons become illegal. The genisis of this was the ECPA (Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986).

This has been ammended over time, but basically the act precludes the government (without a court order) or private individuals from listening in to other persons cellular or cordelss phone conversations. It also made illegal listening to radio or TV station remote broadcast feeds (like airborne traffic reports or news crew dispatches).

I forget when scanners were barred from receiving cellular channels, probably at the same time or shortly thereafter. Laws against modifying scanners followed. I recall the mod for the PRO 43 was cut a small diode.

I have two scanners that I bought PRIOR to the law being passed, one is an ICOM R-1 and the other is an AOR that are continuous coverage, including the cell band. The R-1 is broken and I haven't used the AOR in probably ten years. It kept drifting off frequency.

As I recall the law, old scanners were grandfathered, but listening is still 'illegal'.

As cell phones move out of the 800MHz band, Congress needs to reconsider blocking those frequencies. Until then we are ...
fall/winter of 1993 or 94

I remember the news flap with the Gingrich call and Bob on CSPAN answering congress.

I also have some old editions of PopComm and MT that discuss the issue in detail during the time. I'm not really tempted to drag them out because last time I looked at them I realized that they were reviewing the "new" Sangean ATS-909 and if you wanted to find frequencies outside of policecall you had to step up to a several hundred $$$ opteolectronics scout. The last 4-5 years scanners have jumped leaps and bounds in technology.
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Old 03-24-2008, 11:00 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rocksteady
Go ahead ham operators- hammer and insult me now. lol..Rocky
Not me Rocky! I've owned and modified ham radios that listened there. Owned scanners that didn't need moding, and moded a couple that could be. Most boring comms I have ever monitored. Much more interesting listening to baby monitors, and they're legal to monitor. )
Larry
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