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FCC contemplates two ways to stamp out inmate use of contraband cell phones in prison

In its ongoing effort to prohibit inmates from using unauthorized cell phones to communicate from inside the walls of a prison, the Federal Communications Commission is considering new rules that would attempt to stamp out such use of cell phones in two fundamental ways.

One method to stifle the use of cell phones by prisoners would be to facilitate the deployment of what is called “managed access systems,” which are micro-cellular, private networks that can analyze transmissions to and from a wireless device and determine whether that cell phone is authorized to access public carrier networks. Under new rules the FCC is contemplating, the Commission would streamline the procedural rules under which “spectrum leases” are entered into in order to combat the use of cell phones inside correctional institutions.

In another technological approach, the FCC proposes to require the wireless providers to terminate their service to specific contraband wireless devices once they have been notified of the specific unauthorized cell phone by prison authorities.

“Although the Commission does not propose any measures beyond those designed to facilitate the use and improve the efficiency of managed access and detection systems for addressing the problem of contraband wireless devices in correctional facilities, the Commission invites comment on other technological solutions…,” says the FCC in a notice it published in the Federal Register on June 18.

Members of the public are invited to submit comments on these proposed new rules by July 18 to the Commission’s Web site by clicking here.

Further information is available from Melissa Conway, of the FCC’s wireless telecommunications bureau, at 202-418-2887 or [email protected].



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