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A Call From Prison, Or Criminals On Vacation, While In Jail?

Smartphone in prison

A long time ago I wrote about the situation with cell phones in Indian Coimbatore Prison. Indian authorities refused to equip their jails with the jammers and prisoners used mobile gadgets such as smartphones almost freely. I suppose that you’ll agree with me on that, that letting this is rather unfair and may be even dangerous. Just imagine what criminal can accomplish having an access to the internet, possibility to make calls and send text messages. Inmates can make a plan of an escape, coordinate other crimes from inside the prison facility and even to organize a prison riot. I’ve decided to go back to this topic, because the situation with cell phones in prison changed.

Wireless signal jammers

According to Dawn Newspaper Punjab’s prison department started training of special platoon of wardens, which can handle modern weapons and warfare gadgets. Wireless signal jammers are among their training course. They are specially trained to prevent terroristic acts in jails of India, especially in Punjab’s prison.

After twenty days of training those militarized wardens will be deployed among the jails of the Punjab province, because the risk of terrorism there is rather high.

News from India

Some news from India’s Nabha jail came up recently. The jammers they’ve installed were interrupting the signals of all the facilities nearby the prison, to be exact the whole bank was cut off. So the authorities were forced to call engineers to calculate the exact output power and location of the devices, to be sure that the prison is the only facility in the coverage area. That’s why we need exact calculation and precision while handling cell phone blockers, what would happen if those guys have blocked communications of a nearby hospital?

And that’s not the only problem caused by inappropriate use of the devices that jam radio signals, cell phone jammers including.

Current situation in prisons

The situation in US prisons changes too, now according to Sacramento Bee two prisons in Texas will get “managed access system” that will allow calls from inside the facility only for approved numbers. But that is not the answer to a problem! That “managed access system” solves only a part of a problem, and what can it say to a Wi-Fi internet access? It says nothing, while the prisoners are going more and more quick-witted, when it comes to phone smuggling.

An attempt of smuggling a cell phone in prison facility

The point of the written above is that – is it fair to use cell phone jammers in prisons? I agree that criminals are not on vacation there and the strict rules are to be obeyed for their crimes. But what to do with the wardens, they have no restrictions on using not only cell phones, but other wireless gadgets too. And also, what to do if the emergency occurs?  Wardens will have no way to contact the world outside the facility, and it works both ways.

I’m talking about emergencies, what to do if the warden’s wife is delivering a kid right now and there is no possibility to even call him! Or some guy’s from personnel house is on fire and thanks to an inappropriate use of a signal jammer he can be informed of that only at the end of his shift. That’s not quite cool. So, I see that the usage of overall jammers is not the solution, we should try to use small radius jammers. Their coverage area approximately equals the area of a prison cell. So wardens are out of the coverage are and signals to their radios and cell phones can pass through easily.

Current results

So, what will we have in result? Prisoners have no possibility to use mobile gadgets, because their signals are totally jammed, and the wardens can use the wireless networks (radios, smartphones, etc.) as they will.

Isn’t it a solution suitable for everybody? I can be wrong, but I suppose that that will do. Never the less one problem still exists. It’s not a secret that there’s a lot of smartphones that have wireless internet connection too, in addition to a simple making-receiving calls and text messages. And that can be a problem for jammers.

I’ll explain now. While calling somebody or texting we use the GSM wireless standard frequencies. In Europe and Asia the GSM 900/1800 standard is common.  It the US, Canada and the Latin America the GSM 850/1900 is used. Those standards cover the frequencies band from 824 to 1990MHz. The Wi-Fi frequencies are totally different. While using a Wi-Fi connection we operate the frequencies band of 2.4 GHz, or 2400-2483 MHz. So the total frequencies band to be jammed compile from 824 to 2483 MHz, which is a quite wide range.

How to find a suitable solution?

In addition to a wide range of frequencies to jam the needed jammer has to be with a configurable output power to operate in exactly specified area, in order not to interfere with the communications it shouldn’t interfere.  To tell the truth not every jammer is able to accomplish that task. But can offer a suitable solution for such a specific task.

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