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Downtown skyscraper cited for interfering with cell network

Verizon CommunicationsFederal Communications Commission

The owner of a downtown skyscraper has been cited for using light bulbs that are causing interference with area cellphone service, according to the Federal Communications Commission.

After complaints from Verizon Wireless, commission agents visited Ernst & Young Plaza at 725 South Figueroa St. in April to investigate the interference, according to a citation issued Feb. 7.

The commission discovered that GE fluorescent light bulbs in the building were the “source of radio emissions causing interference to the Verizon 700MHz LTE cell site.”

“I can’t download anything,” Patrick Gonsalves told KTLA-TV, adding that he thought concrete from the building was causing the interference.

According to a 2012 GE bulletin, the lighting ballasts were tested in accordance with FCC requirements, but a small number produced high-frequency radio emissions “that have the potential to cause interference with certain types of wireless communications.” The bulletin also said GE would replace affected equipment.

The FCC issued a citation after a warning was issued to building owner Brookfield Office Properties in May and agents visited the site in November with equipment to confirm the emissions on Verizon's frequencies were from the fluorescent lights.

Brookfield must respond within 30 days of the citation. If the interference continues, it could be fined up to $16,000 each day up to a total of $112,500 and subject to additional sanctions.

The building owner could not immediately be reached for comment. 

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Twitter: @Sam_Schaefer

Samantha.Schaefer@latimes.com

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