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Gov’t, telcos explain weak cell phone signals

/ 06:24 PM January 16, 2015

MANILA, Philippines – For as long as the Pope is in the country, expect weaker or no cellphone signals in Metro Manila and even in places Pope Francis will not visit.

The disruption was intentional to prevent any possible attacks in spite of the assurance of government leaders that no terror threat against the Pope and millions of people has been monitored.

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Mobile phones can be used as triggering devices for improvised explosive devices.

Since the Pope’s arrival on Thursday afternoon, mobile signals disappeared in areas where the popemobile passed through including Manila and Pasay City.

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On the second day of the Pope’s visit, mobile signals were down even in Fairview, Quezon City, Caloocan and Marikina City.

These areas are relatively far from the areas of the pontiff’s engagements like in Malacañang Palace in San Miguel, Manila, Manila Cathedral in Intramuros, and Mall of Asia in Pasay City.

“Ang tinatanggalan talaga ng signal ay yung areas kung nasaan si Pope. Ngayon, because of science and technology, kahit, halimbawa sa Fairview, malayo kung may buhay na cell site doon, yung signal no’n creeps over into the area where the Pope is,” Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II explained.

“Kung five bars (of signal) sa Fairview, three bars in Quezon City, two bars in Malacañang, one bar sa Nunciature, yung one bar na ‘yon can still trigger.”

In a press briefing at the papal visit’s security command center in Aloha Hotel, Roxas said telecommunications companies had been asked to cooperate with the government by ensuring that signals will not reach the areas where the Pope will be.

When asked until when the signals would be disrupted, Roxas said: “I won’t comment on the security measures but I think your common sense is quite common.”

Smart Communications Inc. had been sending its mobile subscribers an apology for the “temporary interruption of mobile phone services last night.”

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In the said text message, Smart said the interruption of their service was “ordered by government authorities in the interest of public safety.”

“Please bear with us if similar situations occur in the next few days during the Papal Visit. Thank you for your patience and understanding,” it added.

Globe Telecom users, meanwhile, received a text message, saying the interruption in their service was “in compliance with the directive of the National Telecommunications Commissions.”

The entire text message from Globe read: “You may have experienced temporary loss of mobile signal and internet connection during Pope Francis’ arrival, especially in areas surrounding his motorcade route. This was done in compliance with the directive of the National Telecommunications Commission. We hope for your understanding. Thank you.”

TOPICS: infotech, jamming, national security, News, Pope Francis
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