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News

Mobile phone blockage in US prison

Tecore Networks : 28 January, 2009  (Application Story)
Prisoner's use of cell phones blocked whilst enabling authorised use by prison staff with IntelliNAC intelligent access control from Tecore Networks
Tecore Networks has deployed its Intelligent Network Access Controller (IntelliNAC) to address the growing problem of illegal cell phone use by prison inmates in a major US locality. While restricting the localised 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. The installation has validated Tecore's approach to restricting cell phone use by inmates in a manner which is acceptable to commercial carriers, regulatory authorities and cellular subscribers. 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 authorisation 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. Building on Tecore's patented, multi-technology architecture, the system addresses devices from the cellular carriers across the spectrum of frequencies and technologies. 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.

"The issue of prison inmates using cell phones to conduct illegal business has become very public," said Scott Hill, Executive Vice President, Tecore Networks. "Inmates are becoming increasingly technology savvy, and security systems have to become more sophisticated as a result. Tecore's IntelliNAC delivers a robust solution that meets the needs of the different groups affected, can be installed and managed in a streamlined manner, and enables prisons to put a dent in crime stemming from contraband cell phones."
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