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April 4, 2014

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Pair tried for blocking cellphone network

TWO men went on trial at Jing’an District People’s Court yesterday charged with destroying public telecommunications facilities through the use of an illegal mobile station.

The key suspect in the case — the first of its kind in the city — is 31-year-old Hao Linxi, who is accused of masterminding a scheme to use a mobile station to send promotional messages for his shoe and bag sales last September and October.

The court heard how Hao purchased two stations several months earlier in Shenzhen, Guangdong Province, for 96,000 yuan (US$15,450).

In Shanghai, Hao recruited a relative, 42-year-old Huang Guoxiang, to drive a car fitted with one of the stations around Changning District from September 9-11, while the first sale was ongoing at the Sheraton Hotel, prosecutors said.

The power of the station was such that cellphone users in the vicinity were inundated with text messages and calls promoting the sale, and were unable to use their phones in the normal way.

A mobile station is the term given to the equipment and software needed to communicate with a mobile network. Some, like Hao’s, are capable of creating signals that are stronger than those produced by official telecoms operators.

On September 11, the local radio administration bureau detected Huang’s activities and confiscated his kit.

A month later, Huang was detained by police who caught him using the same methods to promote two sales organized by Hao at hotels in Xuhui and Huangpu districts. Hao was caught the following day in neighboring Zhejiang Province, and the two men were formally charged on December 19 at the Jing’an District prosecutors office.

China Mobile said about 140,000 signals were blocked by the pair during the October incident.

In court, Hao’s lawyer contested that his client should be facing the lighter charge of disrupting the normal operation of radio communications rather than destroying public telecommunications facilities. He also said Hao had not intended to block the mobile phone signals.

Huang’s lawyer, meanwhile, said his client was solely a driver and had played no part in the planning of the scheme or the purchase of the equipment.

No verdict was reached yesterday.


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