Smart-Jamming for Mobile Phones in US Prison
Published on: 25th Jan 2009
Note -- this news article is more than a year old.
Tecore Networks says that it has deployed its Intelligent Network Access Controller (IntelliNAC) to address the growing problem of illegal cell phone use by prison inmates in an unnamed U.S. locality. While restricting the localized use of unknown cellular devices within the IntelliNAC coverage area, approved prison personnel remain able to access the commercial cellular network service within the prison grounds as well as external to the prison through their existing cellular subscriptions.
Following a successful pilot at one site, the system has been expanded to cover four additional sites.
In 2006, an investigation following a major breakout at the high-security prison revealed that inmates used cell phones to coordinate their escape. To prevent further illegal use of cell phones, the prison system received emergency authorization from the telecommunications regulator to install jamming equipment. As the jamming equipment barred all commercial wireless service, including service of authorized personnel and subscribers on nearby commercial networks, the all-or-nothing aspect of the operation proved ineffective at addressing the needs of the location.
Tecore's IntelliNAC implements a more sophisticated approach to restricting commercial cellular usage by differentiating user groups and enabling policies for each. Whether the device accessing the system is from a GSM or a CDMA commercial carrier, the access is routed to the IntelliNAC for analysis. Once the usage profile is determined, the resulting messaging to the device provides instructions on the access to the commercial service. By managing communications in the targeted coverage zone on a subscriber-by-subscriber basis, IntelliNAC also eliminates the need and added cost for a separate overlay network to enable communications by authorized personnel, as required when jamming equipment is used. In addition, by capturing details of calls and attempts, the system provides information that can be used to address illegal activity both within and outside the prison.