Families and advocates ask FCC to stop phone giant’s further expansion
We argue that Securus' history of misconduct should make it ineligible to acquire competitor ICSolutions.
by Aleks Kajstura, July 17, 2018
Yesterday, the Prison Policy Initiative joined the Wright Petitioners and other advocates in calling on the Federal Communications Commission to stop the merger of prison phone companies Securus and ICSolutions. If the FCC approves Securus’ acquisition of ICSolutions, it will effectively hand the market for prison phone services to Securus and its last major competitor, GTL. Our filing objects to the merger under the FCC’s “character and fitness” test.
Securus’ history of repeatedly flouting commission rules – including deliberately misleading the FCC during a similar review last year, for which it was punished with an unprecedented $1.7 million fine – should alone make it ineligible to purchase one of its competitors. The company has repeatedly tried to circumvent regulation in order to increase its profits from prison phone calls, and as recently as May was caught enabling illegal cell phone tracking.
Our filing includes a detailed analysis of the concentration of the prison and jail telephone industry. We calculated market share in two different ways; by either measure, Securus and GTL are poised to control between 74% and 83% of the market. Except for ICSolutions — which Securus is seeking to acquire – no other company has above 3% market share.
This diminished competition will give facilities less choice and less ability to draft contracts that truly meet their needs. Such a decline in the power of facilities to negotiate with the phones companies comes at a particularly bad time: when a growing number of facilities are finally seeking contracts that lower phone rates for the families of incarcerated people.
Securus and ICSolutions have until July 23rd to respond to our objections. The Federal Communications Commission will rule shortly thereafter, either allowing the license transfer to go ahead, rejecting it, or ordering a hearing.