Learn about pager choices and how to find the best prices on hospital pagers, restaurant pagers, and paging service.
Here we give you the facts as well as our opinion to help you make informed choices.
Local Paging (On-site paging)
Pager Buying Guide
Local paging, also known as on-site paging, typically uses a single transmitter and multiple pagers to form a paging system. The system typically
uses either a UHF (450 - 470 MHz) or VHF (152 - 158 MHz) frequency, but other frequencies may also be utilized. The digital signal encoding for alert-only, numeric, and alphanumeric in-house paging systems is called "pocsag". Most voice pagers still use analog transmissions and the most popular coding system is called "two-tone".
Pagers may be configured to all beep at the same time (all-call), or to beep individually
(personal paging), or a combination of both. This is all done through programming addresses known as capcodes on the pagers and transmitter. Some transmitters are stand-alone devices and others connect to the facility's computer
network. When ordering in-house pagers you will need to know at minimum the operating frequency which is presented in Megahertz (MHz) and is often found on the pager's label. You will also want to know if the paging transmitter is wide band (WB) or narrow band (NB). It is always best to use pagers that match the transmitter's bandwidth, however WB pagers will always work but NB pagers will only work with NB transmitters.
There is a slight risk that WB pagers used on a NB frequency will occasionally miss pages due to interference from another nearby transmitter. In order for the pager to work on your paging system you will also need to know the baud rate and capcodes(s).
All of these specifications can be pre-programmed by the provider, or can be programmed upon receipt of the pagers. Some pagers, such as Apollo alpha and numeric models are hand-programmable which allow you to easily program them without the need of a programming station.
- Alert-only pagers are most often used in restaurants, either for wait staff or customer notification when their table is ready.
- Numeric pagers are used when only the message content will be a call-back phone number, room number, or a numeric code.
- Alphanumeric pagers are used when custom or canned text messages need to be delivered. These are most often found in hospitals and related industries such as senior care.
- Water-resist alpha pagers are used where the pager is likely to be exposed to moisture. These pagers are useful to firemen, nurse's aids, etc.
- Voice pagers are most often used to dispatch fire and rescue teams including EMS personnel.
A programming station is a device that connects between the pager and a computer, uses proprietary software, and is used to modify the frequency, baud rate, and capcodes, as well as other less critical parameters. Most programming stations cost $250 or more but are necessary if you want to do your own programming on models that are not hand-programmable. If you want to avoid the expense of purchasing
a programming station, we advise that you purchase only Apollo pagers because they are hand-programmable and most models are also WB / NB selctable through hand programming. You will be able to easily make programming changes to the pagers should there be any change in the transmitter or if your needs change.
If you are setting up a new paging system, you can buy a pre-packaged system or design your own by choosing pagers and a transmitter. Most transmitters have a built-in antenna or include a plug-in antenna for small- to moderate-sized facilities, however if the facility is fairly large, your system may require an external antenna, multiple antennas, or repeaters. You will most likely need the help of a local professional communications company to install larger coverage paging systems.
Top 5 Pager Brands
1) Apollo Pagers: In our opinion, the best overall pager brand for alert-only, alpha, numeric, and voice pagers is Apollo. Virtually all Apollo alpha and numeric pager models are hand-programmable.
This eliminates the need for costly programming devices and software. Pager programming on alpha and numeric Apollo pagers can be done quickly and easily via the buttons on the pager itself. We have found Apollo pagers to be as rugged as comparable Motorola
and Unication pagers, but are typically offered at a lower cost. They are the only pager brand we know that offers most of their models in multiple color choices. Alert-only models are available with belt clips, with advertising slots (paddle pagers), and in the popular coaster style. Their numeric pagers are available in top-read and side-read versions.
Their alpha pagers are available in 1-line, 2-line, and 4-line display versions. Of the top 3 pager brands, they are the only one that also offers a full selection of voice pagers. All Apollo Voice Pager models include stored voice, whereas Motorola Voice Pagers offer stored voice as an upgrade option.
2) Unication Pagers: Several years ago Unication purchased the rights to manufature the Motorola Advisor Gold and Advisor Elite pagers under their own brand name. These were Motorola's most popular alpha pagers, and continue to be Unication's best-selling pagers.
Most of the electronics from the original Motorola design have been retained. These pagers are known for their ruggedness and intuitive menus. Unlike the Apollo pagers, Unication pagers require a programming cradle when changes are needed. Unications are available in both alpha and numeric versions. All pager models are available in black only.
3) Daviscomms Pagers: Most Daviscomms models are designed to resemble the original Motorola pagers, and they even use the "Bravo" branding that for years was associated with Motorola pagers. You will get the look and feel of a Motorola pager usually at a lower price than for a comparable Unication. Some users have indicated that they find the menus are more difficult to navigate than other brands. All pager models are available in black only.
4) Sun Telecom Pagers: Most Sun Telecom pager models are Flex only and are not compatible with internal paging systems. They do offer one 6-line alphanumeric model and one coaster model. All pager models are well-built, functional, and easy to use. As far as we know, all models require a programming station for setting the basic paging parameters.
5) Long Range Systems (LRS) specializes in complete paging systems for restaurants and the hospitality industry. Their coaster-style pager is actually square, but is well designed and is available in multiple colors. They also provide mobile phone paging apps.
Where to buy - Top 2 On-Site Pager Providers
If you already have a paging system in place and need to purchase additional or replacement pagers, you will find the best pricing and excellent customer service through these providers:
- Prime Access, website name WeSellPagers.com, sells all three top pager brand names at the lowest prices we have found. They operate as factory sales reps for Apollo pagers, and orders are shipped directly from the factory to the customer.
The entire factory stock is at their disposal, and speed of delivery is unparalleled. Most orders are shipped same or next day. Prime Access also sells new Daviscomms and Unication pagers at well below retail pricing, plus they have very competitive pricing on refurbished pagers and beepers. Prime Access also carries an assortment of transmitters to fit most needs. Although most transmitters can be purchased pre-programmed to be plug and play, you may want to customize your system by doing some of your own programming.
They accept credit cards, check-by-fax, COD, and net terms on approval. They have been in business since the late 90s. Customer feedback shows an extremely high level of customer satisfaction.
Phone (877) 333-1003 Email email@example.com
- American Cellular, website name aciamericancellularinc.com, is an authorized distributor of the three top pager brands. They sell mostly Unication and Daviscomms pagers at competitive pricing. Many models are stocked in-house and shipping is usually within one business day unless the item is not in stock. They accept credit card, advance payment, and COD orders. Customers report excellent customer service experiences.
Phone (412) 318-1818 Email firstname.lastname@example.org