Rogue Beer Fridge Interferes with Cell Phones

Telstra, a cell phone carrier in Australia, has created a program to crawl the logs of any performance issues recorded on Telstra’s network. It will find one if it detects it. These problems are usually caused by internal infrastructure issues such as aging cables, bad connections, or external sources that cause radio interference within Telstra’s network’s same frequency band.

A recent example: The software robot located in northeast Victoria, Australia, with performance issues logs showing a problem with cellular uplink connections. To pinpoint the source of interference, the network operations team used directional yagi antennas. The interfering signal was caused by a beer fridge in someone’s garage, which was an interesting twist. A motor in the fridge had an electrical problem, causing noise at the same frequency as cell phones (850 MHz). Multiple neighbourhoods were affected by the interference.

Network interference is usually caused by various factors, including television antenna amplifiers, certain types and plastic welding equipment, and other electrical equipment. Once the network operations team has identified the source of interference, they will ask the owners to turn the equipment off. Most do. If the owner is not cooperative, the carrier can report the matter to the Australian Communications and Media Authority, similar to our FCC, and impose fines.

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