FCC rules in favour of low-cost routing services for inmates [Global Data Point]
(Global Data Point Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) The FCC's Wireline Competition Bureau, in a declaratory ruling, has found that inmate calling service providers are not allowed to unilaterally block call routing services offered in the marketplace. The Bureau ruling follows comprehensive action taken by the Commission to bar high rates for long-distance calls in jails and prisons nationwide. These actions are aimed at facilitating increased contact between inmates and their loved ones. Inmate calling service rate are generally much higher than public payphone rates, and rates for inmate long-distance calls are often higher than for local calls. In 2008, a service called ConsCallHome allowed families to subscribe to a voice over internet protocol (VoIP) calling service, enabling inmates to place a lower cost prison pay phone call to a local number, which ConsCallHome would then route over the internet to families living long distances away, avoiding the expense of high-cost long-distance calling.
Inmate calling service provider Securus Technologies blocked ConsCallHome, arguing that Commission precedent permitted such blocking, and sought a ruling from the FCC on the issue. The Bureau found that the Commission precedent cited by Securus was not applicable in this context. While Securus stopped blocking ConsCallHome earlier in 2013 pursuant to a merger commitment, the Bureau ruling explains why blocking this type of service does not fall within exceptions from the Commission's general policies against call blocking in the event other inmate calling service providers attempt to use this rationale for blocking ConsCallHome and similar services.
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