Signal jamming: We answer all your questions

Jamming of GSM signals during vehicle theft has become prevalent in South Africa. The standard GSM Stolen Vehicle Recovery systems supplied by all tracking companies are ineffective against this new threat.

Netstar has launched a jamming resistant solution, called Jamming Resist™.

Q: What is “signal jamming” as used in the hijacking of vehicles and trucks?

Thieves are able to acquire illegal GSM jamming devices. These range in size from small hand-held units to large briefcase-size units. They emit signals on the GSM frequency, which prevent the GSM tracking device in the vehicle from receiving and transmitting messages.

Q: So my tracking system can be disabled without me even knowing it?

Yes. These illegal devices transmit signals that form a bubble around the vehicle, and very effectively “silence” the tracking device, without anyone knowing what has happened. This is what recently happened in Parliament, when a large GSM jamming device was deployed to effectively block all GSM signals in the Chamber during the state of the nation address.


Q: Can technology counteract the jamming of tracking devices in passenger cars, trucks and trailers?

Yes, it can. There are three main requirements for a tracking device to resist jamming. Firstly, the device has to be able to detect signal interference. Secondly, it then needs to transmit an emergency message to tell someone “I am being jammed”. Thirdly and most importantly, it must be able to transmit this emergency message on an alternative frequency to the one being jammed. Beware of imposters - without an alternative frequency that is not being jammed, the solution will fail.


Q: Can you explain Netstar’s solution?

Our solution is called Jamming Resist™. We own a private radio network covering all of the important parts of Southern Africa. Within this network we have a number of private radio frequencies, different to the GSM frequencies. Our newly released GSM tracking device is multi-functional and able to detect signal jamming. It then immediately activates a recovery beacon. The emergency message is transmitted by the beacon to our control centre on the alternative frequencies, and the recovery initiated.


Q: So your new Jamming Resist™ system is able to detect a jamming signal and take action without me having to get involved?

Yes it's that simple.


Q: Is your new system perfect?

We first deployed jamming resistant technology in 2009, and have now refined it and tested it for the past six months, using many different jamming devices (recovered during vehicle recovery operations). All tests were successful. A number of our large commercial customers have independently tested Jamming Resist™ to their satisfaction. However large industrial type jammers (possibly as large as a suitcase), capable of jamming very large areas, could likely interfere with our frequencies. Fortunately these devices are very expensive, difficult to obtain, and not easy to use in a hijacking situation. We are comfortable that Jamming Resist™ will resist jamming efforts from all small to medium-sized jammers typically used in hijacking situations.


Q: What independent report do you have to show that your radio network is immune to GSM jamming?

In April 2013 Carte Blanche tested the jamming of our private frequencies using a GSM jamming device. The test failed, and we proved that our private frequencies could not be interfered with by the GSM jammer placed in the vehicle by the investigator.


Q: How do you know about these different jamming devices?

We respond to approximately ten hijackings a week in which we suspect jamming devices have been used, and have recovered many of these devices which we have tested extensively. With our in-house expertise in radio networks, radio frequency tracking devices, and GSM tracking devices, we consider ourselves well informed. We've been in this business for over 21 years, and to indicate Netstar's size, we receive upwards of 40 million messages every day! These originate from our radio frequency devices, GSM devices, and satellite communication devices.


Q: Is the use of jamming devices by criminals increasing?

There is no doubt that jamming devices have proliferated, and it won't be long before every hijacker has one.


Q: Is Jamming Resist™ an industry first?

We are not aware of any competitor - in South Africa or globally, that has a system complying with the three key requirements to resist jamming, namely:

  1. Can the device detect signal interference?
  2. If yes, does it transmit an emergency signal?
  3. If yes, is this emergency signal transmitted on a frequency different to the one being jammed?

Phone us today on 0860 12 24 36 if you have any more questions about Netstar’s JAMMING RESIST™ technology, or you’d like to enquire about our extensive range of effective vehicle tracking products and services.