GTL unveils new inmate calling rates, fees in Alabama

Global Tel Link (GTL) has issued new rates and fees for inmate calling in Alabama that they say are in compliance with the state Public Service Commission's (PSC) requirements, despite being exempt from making the changes due to a pending lawsuit.

Alabama PSC's ruling and the new rate changes went into effect on July 1, 2015. These rate changes apply to all Inmate Calling Service (ICS) providers in the state except GTL and another competitor who were granted stays pending the outcome of lawsuits that challenge the validity of the PSC's ruling.

GTL said its voluntary rate changes took effect the same day in order to support sheriffs and minimize confusion among correctional officers, inmates, and inmates' friends and family.

"GTL has decided to change its phone rates and fees to those set by the PSC," said Brian Oliver, CEO of GTL, in a release. "We are acting in the interest of increased transparency for consumers, most of whom likely have no knowledge of our pending litigation, and in order to eliminate the confusion this PSC policy will create in the marketplace."

The Alabama PSC's ruling goes into effect prior to the FCC issues its changes to ICS rates throughout the country that are expected to be announced this summer.

GTL maintains that despite telling the Alabama PSC that its ruling is "unnecessary and will result in further confusion for customers, and inmate friends and family members" it decided to implement its changes.

Joining GTL in its opposition to the PSC's ruling are CenturyLink and Secururs, two service providers that also provide telecom services for prisons.

Prison calling reform has been a big priority for the FCC. In September 2013, the FCC worked to reduce voice call rates for prison inmates via a declaratory ruling made by the regulator's Wireline Competition Bureau that prevents inmate calling service providers from blocking lower-cost call routing services.

That ruling came after the FCC approved an order to reduce prisoners' long-distance calling rates for interstate phone calls between prison inmates and their families.

For more:
- see the release
- see the PSC ruling (.pdf)

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