Researchers at Virginia Tech have asserted that the LTE signal for an area as wide as a city could be disrupted with radio equipment that costs as little as $650. The researchers go on to say that LTE is especially vulnerable to disruption when compared to older 2G and 3G networks.
The news comes as a shock after being buffeted with marketing hyperbole about the power of 4G networks for the last year and a half. Jeff Reed, the director of wireless research at Virginia Tech, says that LTE is more vulnerable because of the constant connection between devices and the signal tower. That consistent syncing process is what leaves LTE signals wide open to disruption. A software-controlled radio unit, a laptop and a power source would be enough to interrupt a base station signal. Beyond that, all that would be needed is the technical know-how.
The research was conducted because of a request for comment by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration. The government body is responsible for providing sound advice to the Executive Branch on topics under its purview. LTE is currently under evaluation for use as the basis for a nationwide emergency broadband network. The NTIA has yet to comment on the report. There hasn't been a comment from any of the nation's LTE wireless carriers either.