Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Pagers Still Viable For Business

Before there were cell phones, there were pagers. Doctors and anyone else who needed to be immediately reachable wore one of those little black boxes. They're also called beepers because of that beep-beep-beep sound that was universal before the vibrating silent ringer was invented. You might think that in this age of cell phone proliferation, pagers would be passe. Oh, not by a long shot.

Pagers and paging services have gotten a new lease on life by the introduction of one way and two way text messaging in addition to traditional numeric paging. Their uses have also expanded in business because of monthly rates that are often much lower than cellular plans. Managers don't mind handing out company pagers to key personnel on a project knowing that there is no way for a gabby employee to run out of minutes or, worse, run up roaming charges. You may also be handed a pager when you visit a trendy restaurant. Linger outside or at the bar. You can be sure you'll get the message that your table is ready.

Pagers today come in three styles and three types of coverage. The most basic is the numeric pager like the Motorola LS-350 or LS-550. It buzzes or vibrates to tell you that you are being paged. The message is in the form of a phone number displayed on an LCD screen atop the pager. A lot of people punch in extra numbers like 911 to indicate an emergency or 411 for info only.

Next step up is the one way text pager like the Motorola T-350 or Advisor Elite. Messages run from several hundred to thousands of characters. These are great when you want to get information to people fast and don't necessarily need a conversation. Breaking news, stock prices, driving directions, how-to instructions, task lists, and so on are good candidates for one way text paging.

The ultimate in pager technology is the two-way messaging system. The Motorola T-900 and P-935 are examples of pagers with this technology. Both have QWERTY keyboards. The P-935 can be used as a personal organizer that will synchronize with your PC like a PDA. Both of these pagers will also send and receive e-mail.

One other advantage of two-way pagers is that the system can be sure that you have received your pages. If your pager doesn't respond, such as when you are on an airplane, the paging system will store your messages and send them when your pager can receive and transmit again.

Update: As of 2009, the function of pagers has been largely replaced by cell phones and smart phones. Use the Cell Phone Plan Finder to check out the top phones and associated wireless service plans.

Follow Telexplainer on Twitter