Liftoff for NSW prison mobile jamming trial

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Liftoff for NSW prison mobile jamming trial

ACMA approves license for restricted tech.

The NSW Department of Corrective Services has approached the market for a trial of Australia’s first mobile jamming system in Lithgow Jail.

The proposal to jam mobile signals and crack down on illegal mobile phone use by prisoners in NSW prisons was first floated in 2009 after two mobile phones were discovered in the cells of convicted rapists in a Goulburn prison.

In 2011 the department conducted laboratory tests of equipment which quashed concerns that jamming signals could affect areas surrounding the jail, proving the radius could be contained within the corrective facility.

The Australian Communications and Media Authority granted the department an exemption to the Radiocommunications (Prohibition of PMTS Jamming Devices) Declaration 2011 act for a trial of the restricted jamming technology in mid-December last year. The license is valid from July 1 this year until June 30 2014. 

The ACMA previously granted the department an exemption for the laboratory bench-testing of a number of mobile phone jammers in 2011.

Corrective Services NSW will deploy CJAM jammers in the prison due to their ability to stop signals in a precise perimeter. The two tenders, put out late last month, cover the provision of equipment, materials and 18 month warranty for a distributed antenna system; and the installation of the equipment. 

The trial is expected to last 12 months. At completion CSNSW will submit a report to ACMA and telcos assessing the success of the trial, based on pre-agreed performance indicators which include:

  • field trial monitoring and reporting arrangements
  • interference management protocols
  • consumer complaint handling and information arrangements, and
  • the establishment of a field trial working group 

The technology will be rolled out to prisons across the state should the trial prove successful. 

The department has declined to comment on the cost, and did not respond to request for comment by the time of publication today. 

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