FCC Reforms Its Rules for Inmate Calling Services

Effective October 26, 2021, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) reforms its rules for inmate calling services by taking the following steps.

  • Eliminating a separate rate cap for collect calling and lowering the interim interstate rate caps to $0.12 for prisons and $0.14 for jails with an average daily population of 1,000 or more incarcerated people.
  • Reforming the current treatment of site commission
    FCC Reform on Inmate Calling Services
    Copyright 2021. NATIONAL INSTITUTE FOR JAIL OPERATIONS. All Rights Reserved.

    payments to permit recovery only of the portions of such payments related specifically to calling services and requires them to be separately listed on bills. Site commission payments that are legally mandated may be passed through to consumers, without any markup, and site commission payments that result from contractual obligations between facilities and providers are recoverable only up to $0.02 per minute for both prisons and jails with average daily populations of 1,000 incarcerated people or more.

  • For the first time, the FCC caps international calling rates at the applicable total interstate rate cap, plus the amount paid by the calling services provider to its underlying wholesale carriers for completing international calls.
  • The FCC adopts a process for providers to follow when seeking waivers of the rate caps for interstate and international calling services; reforms the ancillary service third-party transaction fee caps for calls that are billed on a single per-call basis and charges for transferring or processing third-party financial transactions; adopts a new mandatory data collection; and reaffirms providers’ obligations regarding functionally equivalent access for incarcerated people with hearing and speech disabilities, delegating authority to its Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau (CGB) to undertake a separate data collection to help the Commission resolve critically important disability access issues.

Published July 28, 2021.

Read the full FCC Final Ruling here.

Read the FCC’s Third Report and Order, FCC 21-60, released May 24, 2021. This summary is based on the public redacted version of the document, the full text of which can be obtained from:​public/​attachments/​FCC-21-60A1.pdf.

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