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VoIP Switch - How Prisoners Benefit from the VoIP Switch

October 03, 2013


Staying in touch with friends and family is an important communication focus for all of us. We often take to our mobile devices to send a text, download a quick video of our niece taking her first steps or launching a FaceTime (News - Alert) chat with the son we just sent off to college just to stay connected. The same is true for those who are trying to stay connected while serving time.

Individuals who have been sentenced to a prison term spend a lot of time thinking about those they had to leave behind. As such, the regularly scheduled phone calls they are allowed to make are often the bright point of the week. For many, they are also very expensive. Prisoners and their families must bear the cost of the call, especially long distance calls that can incur charges as high as $1 per minute or more.

Access to a VoIP switch can make these communications much more accessible and keep the cost to a manageable level. ConsCallHome did just that, extending its VoIP-powered service that allowed inmates’ families to dial a local and cheaper number to reach their incarcerated family member. The prisoner then calls the new local VoIP number and CCH (News - Alert) would forward the call to the family’s actual number.

The use of this VoIP switch solved the financial challenge for a number of prisons and has been successfully active for five years. One wireline provider, however, was unhappy with its existence. Securus Technologies petitioned the FCC (News - Alert) to shut the service down, claiming that the service was actually just a diversion scheme to re-route inmate-initiated call to unknown terminating numbers. The firm went so far as to block any CCH calls made over its network.

The FCC disagreed with this claim and recently ruled that the VoIP-powered service could continue to exist. The agency felt that contrary to the claims made by Securus, the service was not compromising security even though calls were being routed around its traditional network. All calls are still monitored by authorized personnel to ensure illicit information isn’t shared and unauthorized contacts are not made.

In this situation, it’s easy to assume from the outside that prisoners could take advantage of information going across the public Internet and use it to their benefit. It ignores the fact that the same rules still apply to IP communications and the same – if not greater – control is still in place. For all involved, however, the use of the VoIP switch ensures the delivery of a much more affordable service.

Edited by Blaise McNamee

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