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FCC Caps Inmate Calling Rates

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

FCC Commissioners in a 2-1 vote approved rate caps for interstate inmate calling rates.

The order sets immediate interim rates at:

  • $0.21 per minute for debit and pre-paid calls
  • $0.25 per minute for collect calls

According to an FCC news release, a 15-minute call can cost no more than $3.75 or $3.15 per call. Before the new order, a similar call would cost more than $17.

The cost of security features, such as advanced mechanisms that block calls to victims, witnesses, prosecutors and other prohibited parties; biometric caller verification; real-time recording systems; and monitoring to prevent evasion of restrictions on call-forwarding or three-way calling is included in the above rates.

The full order has yet to be released publicly, so it’s not clear whether providers can still charge a setup fee for collect calls. The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking released late last year sought comment on prohibiting such setup fees.

The order also requires mandatory data collection, annual certification requirements and enforcement provisions to ensure compliance.

The Commission seeks additional comments on reforming rates and practices affecting calls within a state, as well as fostering competition to reduce rates.