The FCC’s Office of Engineering and Technology (“OET”) granted a two-day experimental license to Tecore Networks, Inc. for it and several other companies to conduct demonstrations at a Maryland prison of various alternatives to jamming technologies. Prison administrators and other government officials have been exploring ways to obstruct inmates’ efforts to smuggle illegal cell phones into prisons, but the wireless industry has opposed the use of the technology because it would interfere with lawful communications.

The FCC has consistently rejected requests for special temporary authority to demonstrate cell phone jamming capabilities at prison facilities under Section 333 of the Communications Act, which bars the use of jamming equipment. According to OET, “in contrast to previous proposals for testing cell-jamming technologies, Tecore has worked with the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services to establish test conditions that ensure against any interference or disruption of cell phone calls that are not part of the demonstration.” Commercial wireless carriers showed support for the experimental license and those in the affected testing area consented to the tests.