FCC’s Pai Calls for Wireless Carrier Help with Contraband Devices in Prisons
Monday, February 05, 2018 | Comments

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said he is convening a group of experts to further discuss ways to address the problem of contraband devices in correctional facilities.

“From my perspective, the most important participants in this fight will be wireless carriers,” he said in an opinion piece in the Post and Courier, a local newspaper in Charleston, South Carolina. “To date, they have largely remained on the sidelines. This has to change. So, I have challenged each wireless carrier to join me and federal, state and local officials as a full partner to help develop effective and affordable ways to address this problem.”

Pai said wireless carriers can partner with correctional authorities to help determine the best, most cost-effective technological solutions to limit contraband device use in prisons.

“They can then work to block these devices from their networks,” he said. “They can conduct tests in appropriate locations to see whether cellular signals can be directed away from prisons at reasonable cost without loss of service to surrounding communities. They can also explore how their own networks can potentially be used to help law enforcement identify contraband devices.”

Last year, the FCC passed rules to help law enforcement combat serious threats posed by the use of contraband wireless devices by inmates in prisons and jails nationwide. Last month, the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP), in collaboration with the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) and the FCC, conducted a test of microjamming technology at the Federal Correctional Institution at Cumberland, Maryland.

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On 2/13/18, Don Copler said:
Some contraband phones are used for nefarious purposes and some are used to communicate with inmates' families. Prisons typically have one carrier to provide phone service for inmates to communicate with family members that charge exorbitant rates for this service. This service shouldn't be a cash cow for the carrier. Providing affordable phone service to inmates and their families would reduce, but of course not eliminate, the incidence of contraband phone use.

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