Is The Good Old Pager Coming Down To Its Final Beeps?

from the out-to-pasture dept

It's been nearly five years since we reported that some people were still clinging tightly to their pagers, despite their obsolescence in many ways thanks to the mobile phone. Few companies still actually make the devices, and with so few users -- just 7.4 million nationwide -- once-thriving pager-repair businesses are now dwindling as well. That's hardly surprising; what is a little, though, is that pagers have continued to hang on. Their real strength is in the medical market, where doctors and hospitals still rely on them because they more reliably penetrate buildings, and they can be used in areas where cell phones are banned due to concerns they'll interfere with medical equipment (or interfere with hospitals' revenue from high-price in-room telephones for patients). But the days of the venerable pager look numbered: hospitals' attitudes about cell phone use are starting to shift, while many are installing WiFi-based systems that offer far greater functionality than simple paging.

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  1. identicon
    Tyshaun, 27 Dec 2006 @ 3:35pm

    still a couple of niche markets...

    One area pager-like devices is still used is in public safety, especially in volunteer based departments. I'm a volunteer EMT and we still have pagers and no plans to change. They are cheap, very reliable, work almost everywhere, and since the information flow needed is all one way (it is how calls are dispatched), there's no need to move to a more sophisticated system.

    As a general point I don't think the shift to consolidating communications to a single platform (primarily cell phones) is a good one just because you have no redudancy if/when there is tower damage and other disasters. I was on an ambulance in Manhattan on 9/11 and the thing that allowed us to maintain at least one way communications with our dispatch was the pager system. A lot of the cell tower support for lower Manhattan was sitting near or on the towers. In some instances, having a mix of communication outlets, some old and some new, is vital to maintain reliable communications for "can't fail" systems (like public safety).

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