T-Mobile and ShawnTech Communications applied for permission from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for ShawnTech to lease some 600 MHz spectrum from T-Mobile in order to create private wireless networks at prisons in about 20 states.
ShawnTech, which was founded in 1993, first began providing installation and maintenance services to inmate telephone systems. Over the years it began providing other communications technology to prisons, including wireless networks. According to its website, it has installed over 100 secure wireless networks nationwide.
In the FCC application to lease 600 MHz spectrum from T-Mobile, ShawnTech lists scores of prisons where it wants to provide private wireless networks.
Neither T-Mobile nor ShawnTech responded to requests for comment for this story.
Exhibit A to the FCC license application states, “The spectrum usage rights will be utilized by Lessee as a Private Mobile Radio Service (PMRS) to manage access to the Commercial Mobile Radio Service (CMRS)."
The license also says that the service will provide secure managed access of wireless devices to the existing commercial networks of licensed CMRS operators in a defined geographic area, within a law enforcement and/or public safety agency facility, to stop the unlawful use of contraband devices by inmates.
ShawnTech’s technology operates within the call set-up layer of the wireless infrastructure to authenticate permitted devices for completion of voice, text or data transmissions by the macro networks, while disallowing transmission of unauthorized devices.
Photos filed with the FCC application show the geographic service areas of each of the correctional facilities where ShawnTech wants to provide service. The application says, “The geographical service area is contained wholly within this defined area and is confined to the outer perimeter. The service will be configured to operate only within the outer boundaries of the GSA so defined.”
For example, here’s the photo of the Bertie Correctional Institution in Windsor, North Carolina.