Before the rise of smartphones and easy modes of communication, owning a pager was considered to be a premium thing. Pagers are a very fast method of communication with only limited information transfer capability. It was one of the first wireless communication devices that were used by the masses. It displays limited information; hence, the main aim of the pager was to inform the concerned person about an emergency or to pass a quick message to grab a nearby phone to contact the person.
Pagers are mostly devices that go way back to 1950s. Before the advent of portable phones, the pagers were a quick mode of communication in which a person can transmit a message to grab a nearby phone or go to a telephone booth to call back or receive a call from the other person. The pagers, however, died a slow death even after the advent of light, portable cell phone devices because it is a much faster way of communicating a short critical message such as an emergency or distress call in a hospital.
The compact devices could very well be regarded as the father of the current portable phone technology with the ability to send long and short messages quickly over cellular networks or the Internet. The primary function of the pager device was used as a one-way communicator in which the employer can contact the employee on an urgent basis when the employer is not in his/her office or have a cell phone device. The eventual need for a two-way communication led to the modification of pagers into a two-way communication device but ultimately to its death when the portable cell phone was introduced.
Use of Pagers now
As mentioned earlier, the usage of smartphones and cell phones have eventually ruled out the usage of pagers; however, in some professions pagers are widely used. Let us have a look at the places where the usage of pager services is still widespread.
1. Hospitals (Emergency-related situations)
Usage of the pager services is quite common in the hospital environments even today. Pagers are a traditional mode of communication within the hospital campus under emergency conditions where the person paging is sure that the other person will be ready to listen to the pager and attend to the patient quickly. Also, another reason why pagers are used in the hospitals is that they do not require cellular coverage to transmit a message. In large hospitals there are often places when a cellular network is not available; hence, the use of a pager is quite popular in the transmission of messages quickly.
In some parts of hospitals usage of mobile phones might be restricted too as they often transmit harmful radiations that can mess with the sensitive hospital equipment. In these cases, the usage of pager comes in quite handy.
Another quite popular usage of the pager technology is in the restaurant business. In this case, the customers waiting to get into a restaurant after making the reservations can be given a pager to inform them about the availability of a table once it gets free. Thus allowing the customers to be away from the restaurant and still receive an almost instantaneous message about their table being ready. It is a cheap solution for restaurants that do not want a long queue of customers waiting outside their doors waiting to get in. It is also convenient for the customers who do not have to wait outside the doors to get in.
The pager services have also been used in the past in birdwatching frenzies in the past. Birdwatchers from Ireland and Britain have been using this service to page each other about the sighting of a rare bird without disturbing the quiet environment around them which may cause the birds to flee.
4. Fire-Departments and Paramedics
As mentioned earlier, the use of pagers is often required in emergency situations where you cannot wait for the person to pick up the call on a cell phone. Police and fire-fighters often talk in codes which are a faster way of communication than explaining a similar situation every single time. For example, the Firefighters might have a code 001 for a road accident and 002 for a building on fire. Pagers can be used to communicate via sending these codes on a press of a button to convey information, which would have taken a longer time on a call or via a text message.
Thus, these uses make pagers still popular for a fast, easy and cheap mode of communication.
Types of Pagers
There are five different types of pagers that have existed from time to time,
· Alphanumeric Pagers – Transmits information in a limited alphabet and numeric characters. For example, 010ABC.
· Voice Pagers – Can be programmed to read a pre-recorded message or record and send your voice message.
· Two-way Pagers – Acts much like a cell phone and can transmit messages in either voice or alphanumeric characters.
· Beepers – Beeps or makes a basic alert sound in case of an emergency, without a display.
· Numeric Pagers – Transmits information in terms of numeric characters only. For example, 012387.
The Pros and Cons of using the Pager services
There are several upsides and downsides to the usage of pagers nowadays. Although the technology is almost extinct now, there are some places where the pager technology still comes out on top of the smartphone or cellphone technology.
· Fast way of communication
· Effective to be used in emergency situations
· Ability to talk in code and encrypted messages quickly
· Variety of alarm methods (beep, flash, and vibrate)
· Does not require cellular network
· Very compact size
· Very cheap services
· Very long battery life
· One-way and two-way mode of communication
· Can only convey short messages
· Can only display alpha-numeric characters
· Requires special charger (Rare availability)
· No digital media transfer
· Can be easily hacked
· Messages can get mixed up in case of a frequency overlap
· Limited coverage zone
The pager technology will always have a special place in the heart of people as a quick way of transmitting short messages at cheap costs.