FCC Launches Proceeding on In-State Calling Rates for Incarcerated People

The Federal Communications Commission seeks comment on its expanded authority over incarcerated people’s communications services, as outlined in the Martha Wright-Reed Just and Reasonable Communications Act of 2022. The new law gives the FCC authority to combat unjust and unreasonable rates and charges for voice and video calls, including calls within a state’s borders, where previously the agency had rate-making authority only over voice calls between states and foreign locations. The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking and Order begins the process of implementing the law, which requires the FCC to adopt just and reasonable rates no earlier than 18 months and no later than 24 months after the law’s January 5, 2023 enactment. The Notice seeks comments on several issues related to implementing the Martha Wright-Reed Act, including:

  • How the FCC should interpret the law’s language to ensure that the agency’s actions fulfill Congress’s intent;
  • What rules would be necessary to implement the law’s directive that the Commission set “just and reasonable” rates and charges for incarcerated people’s communications services;
  • What is the appropriate rate-making approach for both audio and video services;
  • Whether a broad interpretation of the Martha Wright-Reed Act advances the goal of section 716 of the Communications Act to ensure that services and equipment used for advanced communications services are accessible to and usable by incarcerated individuals with communications disabilities.

FCC Acts on In-State Calling Rates for Incarcerated People