A mobile phone jammer is an instrument used to prevent cellular phones from receiving signals from base stations. When used, the jammer effectively disables cellular phones. These devices can be used in practically any location, but are found primarily in places where a phone call would be particularly disruptive because silence is expected.
As with other radio jamming, cell phone jammers block cell phone use by sending out radio waves along the same frequencies that cellular phones use. This causes enough interference with the communication between cell phones and towers to render the phones unusable. On most retail phones, the network would simply appear out of range. Most cell phones use different bands to send and receive communications from towers (called frequency division duplexing, FDD). Jammers can work by either disrupting phone to tower frequencies or tower to phone frequencies. Smaller handheld models block all bands from 800MHz to 1900MHz within a 30-foot range (9 meters). Small devices tend to use the former method, while larger more expensive models may interfere directly with the tower. The radius of cell phone jammers can range from a dozen feet for pocket models to kilometers for more dedicated units. The TRJ-89 jammer can block cellular communications for a 5-mile (8 km) radius.
Less energy is required to disrupt signal from tower to mobile phone, than the signal from mobile phone to the tower (also called base station), because the base station is located at larger distance from the jammer than the mobile phone and that is why the signal from the tower is not as strong.
Older jammers sometimes were limited to working on phones using only analog or older digital mobile phone standards. Newer models such as the double and triple band jammers can block all widely used systems (CDMA, iDEN, GSM, et al.) and are even very effective against newer phones which hop to different frequencies and systems when interfered with. As the dominant network technology and frequencies used for mobile phones vary worldwide, some work only in specific regions such as Europe or North America.