411 on pagers
Technological progress is constant and constantly changing. It’s actually hard to keep up with all the new releases, upgrades and developments as they hit the market, usually when we’ve just found out about the last device we bought. It seems sometimes an IT degree would be useful to work with our smart phones. With the majority of the population carrying a cell phone these days, we have been tricked into believing that we are always connected and have developed a false sense of security along with a real sense of dependence on phones. More and more, our city and municipal governments are switching from the tried and true pagers of yesteryear to cell phones for employees. The question we need to ask ourselves about this switch is, “Is this really the best choice?”
The use of pagers began as early as the 1950s and proved to be a very reliable form of communication, especially for those industries involved in emergency situations such as: doctors, nurses, firefighters, police, emergency crews and others, who react quickly. Just as cell phone technology has advanced, so has pager technology. Pagers still come in a one-way version, but they also come in a two-way version, which is the equivalent of texting on a cell phone, one of the most common uses of cell phones today. Pagers now also have Internet and email capabilities. Despite these similarities to cell phones, the biggest differences and advantages of a pager over a cell phone remain reliability, coverage, cost, and functionality.
Pagers run on regular alkaline batteries. Battery life in a pager can last anywhere from a few months to a year. A cell phone, especially the latest smartphones, has a short battery life of a few hours to perhaps a full day if very few applications are running. In an emergency where there is no access to electricity or the ability to charge a cell phone, the reality of a phone being able to provide any kind of help or security is nil. A pager on the other hand is reliable and will not need charging or electricity to function.
The other problem that many mobile phone users face is the reliability of signal reception. Without a signal, a cell phone is about as useful as a Walkman in an emergency. The MP3 may have music to listen to while the battery lasts, but forget about being able to contact someone to provide assistance. A pager does not have the same reception problems as cell phones because pagers function very differently. The pager works with a radio signal that has higher power and a greater coverage area of up to 60 miles, in comparison the cell phone network signal is usually only 10 miles. With such a small coverage area, cell phones are literally competing for their signals from their sporadically located towers to make the cell phone functional, this is why there are dropped calls, lack of coverage, especially in rural areas or inside buildings, and congestion of networks. Pagers are not subject to these poor reception problems and will work in areas where cell phones are dead.
Cost is another important difference between cell phones and pagers. How much was your last cell phone bill? The answer probably depends on minutes used, phone features, plan, how many text messages are sent, and various other complex charges that go into that long, detailed billing statement. Pagers, on the other hand, cost much less for the equipment itself, and there’s no way for employees to abuse minutes, texts, or downloads. It is estimated that employees regularly waste an average of one hour per day on personal conversations and another hour on personal internet use. With pagers this simply cannot happen, costs are set and known every month and this is a huge benefit to any business or government that needs to cut costs, especially in this weak economic environment that everyone is struggling through. The question employers need to ask themselves is how many employees really need cell phones for their jobs? This is something that every company and government agency needs to analyze and evaluate. In most situations, pagers will be just as effective and definitely more economical and certainly less intrusive in a work environment.
Natural disasters and acts of terrorism have never been more in the news than in the last few years. Audiences watch with tears in their eyes as government officials, first responders and emergency personnel struggle with communication problems and chaos on the scene. The real problems are obvious as these people cannot communicate via mobile phones, via the internet which also becomes obsolete when electricity and connectivity are compromised, and even two-way radios which are incompatible as each group maintains the integrity of the channel of normal basis of operation. Pagers are again the solution to all these communication nightmares as they are designed to spread information to the masses at once. In the event of a downed tower, a temporary tower can be erected quickly, easily and literally in the back of a gas generator truck. This is not the case with the cell phone tower.
There are many reasons why pagers exist and have been used by people who have depended on them in life and death situations for over fifty years. Pagers are easily portable, will function in the worst situations, whether natural or man-made, will deliver critical information to the people who need it most, and won’t break the bank doing it. Pagers will work when you need them and can provide the benefits that serve the user time and time again in a very functional and necessary way. Pagers may not be the sexiest tech toy on the market today, but should employees be at work playing with their smart phones, or should they be working and doing their jobs efficiently, effectively and economically? That’s the real question! And we all know the real answer!