How can I stop employees using their smartphone provider’s Internet service on company grounds?

Joseph Monticciolo March 30, 2012
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Blocking smart phone internet service providers signal at specific location

My question would best be described by the situation a friend of mine finds himself in:

A friend of mine has a company and he finds that his employees are using their smartphones too much, i.e. the employees are not using the company’s wireless signal but the Internet on their smartphones from their service providers. According my friend he didn’t mind in the beginning but now he finds that they are on their smartphones too much.

So I’m asking does anyone know if there is there software or hardware available that can stop the employees from using their service provider’s Internet on their smartphones in the company grounds?

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  1. Jduda
    April 9, 2012 at 9:33 pm

    We have the opposite problem: employees connecting their smartphones to the corporate network, using up all the IP addresses, and then laptops needing to connect, can't.

  2. Robbie Pence
    April 8, 2012 at 3:41 pm

    Jammers are illegal more often than not. If employees are using their phones too much, it's often  the management's problem. Options:

    1. Issue a three strike warning system. Caught on your phone when on the production floor more than twice when not on break? Canned.

    2. Give the employees a reason NOT to use their phones. In other words, more work, or more company events, or just tighter schedules/productivity reports.

    3. "Oh, you're using your phone? You must not have enough work to do...I can help with that."

    There are perfectly good reasons to be using your phone. But during work hours, the employees are being paid to work, not play.

    To be clear, I don't see anything wrong with texting, etc, as long as the employee in question is making that the exception, not the rule, and they are otherwise productive and trustworthy.

    Ideally, your friend could simply make it known that it's becoming a problem to the staff, and the problem may take care of itself.

  3. Jack Cola
    April 2, 2012 at 8:07 am

    In Australia, Mobile phone jammers are illegal - a few people have faced quite length jail sentences for deploying Jammers in schools and work forces.

    You can do a few things:
    Enforce a policy where employees can't use there phone during the day, only during breaks. If they get caught, they face instant dismissal.

    Or, encourage employees to use the companies WiFi network so they can do the browsing on their computers than on their phone. Because using a phone can take at least twice as long, if not more to do the same thing on the computer, thus having employees more productive than being on their phones.

  4. J. Stidham
    April 1, 2012 at 3:55 pm

    With almost two decades of practical experience in management & supervisory roles, it's my opinion that your friend is looking at this issue in the wrong way. 

    If the problem is so pervasive as to become disruptive to his business, he needs to, first, establish and/or communicate his company's policy regarding conducting personal business while his employees are supposed to be working.  (The more general, the better.  It really doesn't matter WHAT they are doing.  They are paid X number of dollars for X number of working hours, period.  Would it be less frustrating or  if they spent their time napping or reading comic books.) 

    Second, hold his people acccountable for ensuring that the policy is adhered to.  If they cannot follow that policy, he needs to ask himself, "What else are they not doing that they are supposed to be doing?"

    Third, taking disciplinary action, up to, and possibly including termination or dismissal, of one or two employees will clearly send the message that he means business. 

    Finally, I would strongly caution him against employing any devices that could possibly be deemed illegal by the FCC and would also prevent employees from making or receiving calls on their personal cell phones during non-working times, such as breaks or meal periods.  To do so, could be construed that he is excercising control over the employees' actions during unpaid periods and result in a determination that the employees were not afforded their lawful time off.  This would make him liable for overtime or back pay and, depending on state and local laws, in violation of labor laws regarding required breaks and meal periods.

    Hope the info is helpful.  I have seen the best of intentioned employers create legal issues that cost them ten times what they thought they were saving by enacting similar "solutions".

  5. Kristel Pent
    April 1, 2012 at 1:40 pm

    Personally I'd hand in a notice if I worked at a company that is considering cell phone signal to boost productivity. I do not think that the productivity at the particular company would improve even if the mobile signal was jammed, the problem your friend needs to address in his company lies elsewhere. A good start would be simply asking his employees why they do it.

  6. Chris Miller
    April 1, 2012 at 1:25 pm

    In the US, you can not legally block cell phone signals.  Trying to block the signal is only addressing the symptom of the problem, not the root cause.  This employer needs to determine why his employees are on their smart phones so much. 

    If the problem is that productivity is being affected, then that's where he needs to concentrate.  There should be measurable goals and if those goals are not being met, then the employees need to know that there will be consequences if those goals are not met.

  7. Dale Pizzuti
    April 1, 2012 at 7:06 am

    Tell your friend that it is now a modern world and we are all connected with each other in seconds. The electronic age of people have more complex lives then the previous generation. Let the damn people use their smartphones as long as they get the job done efficiently. Who cares if it's slow and the employees want to go on Facebook. Tell him to stfu and deal with it.

    • timmyjohnboy
      April 1, 2012 at 1:03 pm

      My guess is that since it's become an issue that productivity has already become affected.

      Furthermore, I'm not sure if telling someone to "shut the ____ up" is the way to talk to a friend ;)

  8. James Bruce
    March 31, 2012 at 12:11 pm

    How about something really crazy like *asking them not to*. If you catch them still doing it, sack them. Simple. 

    • John Penland
      March 31, 2012 at 4:56 pm

      Smartest answer. IIRC, BART is being investigated for their decision to jam signals. 

    • Joseph Monticciolo
      March 31, 2012 at 5:55 pm

      They've been told, however the problem persists . . . what do you want them to do . . . fire them all !?!

      • Oron Joffe
        March 31, 2012 at 5:58 pm

        Fire one or two of them. The others will get the message.

      • timmyjohnboy
        April 1, 2012 at 12:59 pm

        Having a system for reprimanding in place will help. In other words, make it perfectly clear what's being expected of them, outline the consequences, and follow it to the "t." I would have a few steps of chastisement before actually firing someone, assuming he's trying to avoid losing otherwise good employees.

    • Lee
      April 1, 2012 at 1:39 pm

      I completely agree with this. If the employer tells the employees not to do something while at work and they still do it, there has to be consequences. Signal blockers are illegal in the US so don't do that. 

  9. Oron Joffe
    March 30, 2012 at 9:37 pm

    Joseph, there are jammers available which will do this, and also paint that can block the signal. However, check the legality of using these before proceeding. In the UK for example it is illegal to interfere with mobile signals.

    Also, consider the consequences of blocking the mobile signal. A visitor on the site would not be able to use their phone, emergency calls would not be able to take place, other signals (e.g. GPS) may be blocked etc. Far better to simply forbid the employees contractually from using their mobiles if it's a real problem.

  10. Susendeep Dutta
    March 30, 2012 at 3:54 pm

    You can purchase network jammer for mobile phones.This will make the mobile network within your organization inaccessible.Please see the article link below for indepth information,legalities to operate in your country and other stuffs -

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mobile_phone_jammer

  11. Indronil Mondal
    March 30, 2012 at 12:32 pm

    may be a jammer sort of thing is there but the military people use it 

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