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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.
Wide-area Paging (Paging Service)
Wide area paging is provided by paging service carriers, and the signals are transmitted by a system of towers. Each tower can cover up to about a 25 mile radius, but the range is often affected by terrain and building structures. Remember that no matter what covergae the service provider offers, the actual coverage is dictated by the location of the towers and the local terrain. Before ordering paging service it is wise to check the coverage area map to determine if you will get service in the areas you generally travel in.
There are two US nationwide paging carriers: USA Mobility and American Messaging. Each of these carriers transmits on different 900 MHz frequencies using a digital coding format called Flex, which was originally developed by Motorola. They also support 2way paging using a coding format called Reflex. Many, if not most, paging service customers that utilize one of these nationwide paging systems actually purchase their service from resellers. Very often the retail pricing offered by resellers is less than that offered by the carrier. We have also found that resellers will usually provide a better customer service experience for end users.
When you sign up for one way (alpha or numeric) paging service, you can opt for local (can be anything from city-wide to state-wide, to a small region that covers multiple states), state-wide, regional (northeast or southeast for example), or nation-wide coverage. You can also opt for a local or toll-freee number. Another option is voicemail, and this comes in many varieties based n length of messages, number of messages held, and length of message retention. Usually anything more than local service with a local pager number will cost more money per month.
One-way Pagerless Paging
Yes, you are reading that correctly. There is a new service offered by MySecretaryUSA that provides nationwide numeric paging service with voicemail for only $6.95/mo. Alphanumeric service adds $3 per month. Numeric and alpha pages are sent directly to your cellphone as a text message and/or any email address. When a voicemail message is left in the mailbox, you receive notification in the same way. So there is no pager to carry around, no coverage issues to worry about, plus all the benefits of having a private pager number with voicemail. The paging service is also accessible via standard SMS texting (text to the pager number) and email. So wherever you have cell phone coverage, you have paging service coverage as well. Any missed pages will automatically be delivered to your cell phone once you regain coverage. The paging service is unlimited, but keep in mind that each page adds to your cellphone text count.
Two-way (or 2way) paging on either of the two mentioned nationwide carriers allows for receiving and sending text messages and, as far as we know, is always provided with nationwide coverage. When SMS is added to two-way service, you may send text directly to text-enabled cell phones and other texting devices. Without SMS, you can still send to a cell phone but you would need to know the cell phone's email address. Here is a handy list for finding the email address of most cell phones provided you know the carrier. You may find some one way service plans that include unlimited paging, but most 2way plans are usage-sensitive, meaning that the more you use it in terms of quantity of messages, the more you pay.
Best Pagers For Use with Paging Service
When you choose which paging provider to go with, they will offer a few different pager models based on the type of paging service you want. You can buy pagers from other sources such as eBay, but beware that due to the variuos frequencies and coding formats, you may end up with a pager you can't use. We highly recommend that you choose a pager that is offered by the provider based on their recommendation or features you would like. Many providers will offer used or refurbished pagers as well as new pagers. Do not be afraid to order a used or refurbished pager as these will generally work as well as a new pager, but may be a lot less expensive. Remember that Motorola stopped manufacturing pagers several years ago, so if you find a provider offering new Motorola pagers, it is highly unlikely that the pager would actually be new, and this would tell you something about the character of this provider. If you would prefer a new one-way pager, we recommend Apollo, Unication, Daviscomms, and Sun Telecom (in that order). There are still some new Axess Stories and Daviscomms BR501s offered. These are discontinued models but are excellent pagers. If you are looking for a two-way pager, refurbished Motorola T900s ($25 - $39 thru MySecretaryUSA) are the most popular, but the Unication M90 (retail $149, refurb $49 thru MySecretaryUSA) is a new-improved rechargeable version of that pager with more power, better display, and extended range & features. There is also a new Sun Telecom ST902 ($580 thru DirectPage which includes a year of service) 2way pager which again is similar to Motorola T900 but with a 6-line display vs. 4 lines on the T900, but still uses an AA alkaline battery and is not rechargeable.
Where to buy - Best Paging Service Providers
Finding the best paging service rate is tricky because many providers will offer free pagers, but add activation fees, cancellation fees, exorbitant shipping fees, or require that you sign up and pay for a year of service in advance. Others will have good base rates but charge excessively for upgrades. We have done the math for you and have located what we feel are the lowest prices with the most flexibility.
One-way Pagerless Paging
In addition to the two nationwide carriers, there are also some local carriers that will provide service witihn a state or region of the country. These smaller carriers may offer service on any of the standard frequencies in VHF, UHF or 900 MHz. We have found that most of these smaller carriers use the pocsag coding format rather than Flex, and we have not found any that offer 2way paging. Here is a link to another website that has compiled a list of paging carriers throughout the US. Please note that many of the companies listed no longer exist or have been bought by one of the major carriers. We do not know when this list was last updated. We suggest you use this list only if the recommended reseller or carrier cannot provide coverage where you need it.