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Over the course of the last 30 years, the advent of cheap cellphones has proven to be a game changer in the way that people communicate, live and work. The ubiquity of cellphones has quickly transformed the ways in which people stay in touch and how they connect to the internet, giving nearly everyone in the world access to the entirety of human knowledge and instant connectivity with their friends and family at the click of a button.
The development of cellular phones took a surprisingly short period of time. Starting in around 1985, the first cellphones came on the market. They evolved from being clunky devices weighing up to 100 pounds to being handheld, all-purpose computing platforms like the iPhone. This transformation only took around 22 years, culminating with the flat screen phones with which so many are familiar today.
The price of both acquiring and using cellphones also dropped by orders of magnitude over this period. The first phones often cost in excess of $5,000 to buy. The monthly bills for the first car phones could easily exceed $1,000. These prices began to dramatically lessen throughout the 1990s as cellular companies built more towers and high-quality networks began proliferating, generating intense competition between carriers.
By the end of the 1990s, cellphones had shrunk to highly miniaturized devices that could be concealed almost anywhere. And in the year 2000, the first cellphones costing less than $10 began coming on the market. This meant that virtually anyone could now afford their own cellphones, a far cry from just 15 years before when cellphones were viewed as a status symbol of the rich and famous.
But not everyone was thrilled by the incredible advances in cellular technology. The nation’s prison system quickly learned what the downside of such cheap and widely available cellphones was. Cheap and easily concealed phones began flooding the nation’s jails and prisons, creating serious risks to institutional safety.
One of the most serious problems that confronted the nation’s prisons was the contraband phones falling into the hands of organized criminal gangs. These gangs began using the ubiquitous devices to order hits on rivals, intimidate witnesses and even harass and assault prison staff and other law enforcement on the outside. The problem continued to escalate, and many gang members began being acquitted due to witnesses’ unwillingness to cooperate. This led to some of the most dangerous criminals in the country going free.
Then, Securus Technologies, one of the most important providers of inmate communications services in the country, unveiled a technology that promised to completely eliminate the threat of contraband phones. Known as the Wireless Containment System, the device is able to completely block all unauthorized cellular calls within its range of operations. Today, the WCS is being deployed to prisons throughout the nation, putting a stop to illegal cellular calls.