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Japanese pagers to issue last beeps on Tuesday, ending 50-year run (japantimes.co.jp)
291 points by ytch 15 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 126 comments

I love pagers. Sometimes I carry three for three different hospitals.

There is no risk of malfunction due to automatic software updates when the software does not update. There is no chatty distraction of text platforms. Functionality is not affected by changes to volume or mute status as it might be on a heavily used phone. The wavelengths used reportedly have better penetration deep into buildings with shielded areas like around MR machines. They are bulky, and it would be hard to forget that one is on call when they are strapped to the waistband/belt.

When the pager goes off, it doesn't bother other people because they either don't know what it is or know it's a medical issue and is acceptable.

The major problem is that I constantly 'hear' my pager going off when other devices beep in a roughly-similar fashion even when I'm not wearing it and my heart starts racing, so I have to change the ringtone frequently to de-Pavlov myself.

You're absolutely right about the various advantages of pagers over cell phones.

On the other hand, all of that medical information goes over the air in plain text. It is trivial to capture and decode POCSAG [1], requiring less than $100 of hardware: a Raspberry Pi 3 has enough horsepower to handle the 2 RTL-SDR's needed to capture both the 929MHz and 931MHz bands.

Modern security simply demands that pagers go away (or at least be heavily modified). This is not a theoretical concern [2][3].

[1] https://github.com/pvachon/tsl-sdr

[2] https://www.rtl-sdr.com/art-installation-eavesdrops-on-hospi...

[3] https://openprivacy.ca/blog/2019/09/09/open-privacy-discover...

Unfortunately, it's pretty hard to get all the security benefits of modern technology without the distraction, the sloppy user interface, the complexity (and attack surface) and user hostility -- in a word, without the incredibly poor design -- of modern technology.

A pager-like device with proper encryption isn't extraordinarily challenging. But planned obsolescence or selling ads is pretty hard to do with this sort of technology, so despite plenty of interest from users, there's not that much interest from companies.

To be fair it generally costs money to send a page. It's the expectation of free messaging that creates the need for advertising - unless people are willing to go back to the days of paying per message.

Have you ever used Signal?

Maybe I’m living in the 1970s but I always assumed pagers just showed a phone number and you were supposed to call back?

No, you can definitely send a text message to them, they just don't have the ability to send anything back.

the most basic pagers can only receive callback number. More advanced ones have additional features to display text messages as well.

Except for the 2-way ones

What next? 2-way voice communication!? ;)

Does the paged text typically contain information that can identify the patient?


"An information technology worker from Johnson County recently told The Star about the issue after he stumbled across hospital pager information while playing with an antenna, which he bought to get TV channels on his laptop computer. With a simple program, the antenna picks up radio signals that can be digitized.

Except instead of picking up local TV stations, he started seeing things like this, with the patient's and doctor's names included:

RQSTD RTM: (patient's name) 19 M Origin Unit: EDOF Admitting: (doctor's name) Level of Care: 1st Avail Medical Diagnosis: TONSILAR BLEED, ANEMIA, THROMBOCYTOPENIA

It was the personal patient data of a 19-year-old man, broadcast across the airwaves for anyone to read. And it was coming from a local hospital, which was sending the message to a doctor on a pager."

I looked into some of such cases in Germany, there the answer was definitely yes. Names and addresses, coupled with extremely sensitive medical information.

I'd imagine it to be trivial to also send malicious signals and jam the system.

That sounds like any radio frequency though. Alao a great way to get the FCC knocking on your door sooner or later.

True you could create a trash beacon for any frequency, but as you said it'd be very "loud". Disrupting service with seemingly innocent messages would be much harder to detect though

Oh I see, you're suggesting a very specified attack. Sounds like a smaller scale Stingray or something, but for beepers.

Edit: Yeah I'm not entirely familiar with interference detection, but I would always suspect some HAM somewhere will figure it out and report it.

>the 2 RTL-SDR's needed to capture both the 929MHz and 931MHz bands.

A single R820T can do about 2.56MHz bandwidth, which is enough to handle both bands simultaneously.

I can attest that notifications which doesn't force you to take immediate, real-time action has productivity and may be even mental health benefits.

I have struck an old android wear watch to the front of the computer desk just to see the notifications from my smartphone. So when the notifications arrive, I can see it on the watch like a pager and it has cut my need to touch the smartphone for notifications which could potentially lead into a rabbit hole.

Yes a smartwatch on hand can do these as well, but reaching to it will likely lead to smartwatch rabbit hole. I use the smartwatch on the desk as read only, no actions.

> The major problem is that I constantly 'hear' my pager going off when other devices beep in a roughly-similar fashion even when I'm not wearing it and my heart starts racing, so I have to change the ringtone frequently to de-Pavlov myself.

Yup. I've got very, odd, sounds for all my "paging" needs. It's the only way to stay sane.

Play this in the right place in a British or Irish seaside village and about 5 people will immediately jump up and run out the door! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8EYfOxeBV7M

I’m a big fan of them for technical on-call for those reasons, plus the better battery life. Much more reliable than cell phones.

How does pagers deal with dead spots? Since they seem to only be receivers it would be hard to guarantee delivery? I Googled a little and understood that it works a little different than cell towers, in that every tower transits the same message at the same time, a little similar to how FM-radio works.

Interestingly enough it seems like 5G will operate in a similar fashion, albeit a little more modern, where at least the client can talk to multiple towers at the same time and send and receive from multiple towers as well.

In typical use the person being paged makes direct contact with the sender once the page has been received. It's better than guaranteed delivery, in that the direct contact from the recipient closes the loop "completely", and guarantees that the message has not only been delivered but also read, understood and acted upon. The attempt to page continues until the contact has been made.

It's an old technology but it works. Large parts of the world are still installing new paging networks as their old ones reach end of life. Part of my day job is designing the equipment for such networks.

Er, no - verbal confirmation of delivery, in the event it succeeds, is not better than guaranteed delivery; it is strictly worse. If the message gets dropped you have no way of knowing - you might be waiting forever.

Er, no - Nobody waits forever. People are not computers stuck in a for loop waiting for input.

If a response isn't received in an expected amount of time, then the sender takes the appropriate action.

People are far better at dealing with faults than any automated mechanism.

It doesn't. I owned such a thing in an area where the reception was poor back in the 90s. It just meant that it wasn't very useful, because I usually didn't get the messages.

I believe they don't? The most basic types of pagers are receive only device just like a FM radio is. The network is supposed to be sufficiently loud and clear and practical, and that's it.

For me the advantage of the pager, is that it is loud, much louder than a mobile phone and easy to hear outdoors in traffic. I have found though an iPad is equally loud, if not louder but is a lot bigger and less robust. For my use if someone can come up with a way of making a mobile phone alert to the same volume, I'd move to that as in any case I have to acknowledge the page on an app and the monthly service fee on the pager is four times what I pay for my mobile service.

You might want to look for smartphones targeted to gamers, which usually have loud speakers, or buy a Bluetooth ringer amplifier and carry it with you.

Its too loud for me, but the vibration motor in mine is also incredibly, boneshakingly loud. It's impossible to ignore, which is great. My iPhone and apple watch are basically silent compared to it, especially when walking or doing anything laborious.

I'm surprised your pager is so expensive. Mine is around $6/mo through my employer.

It’s the first time I’ve read about Pavlov. What are you referencing if I may ask?


Pavlov famously rang a bell while feeding his dog, eventually demonstrating that the dog would salivate at the sound of the bell alone, showing an adaptive link between stimuli and subconscious response.

Building reach is much less important when you have a higher level protocol on top and can check for message receipt (and can ack or people can call you as a last resort).

It is funny to see these technologies being shut down right when they are useful for IoT.

I was building LED displays for bus stops to show information about the next bus. I found pagers to be a great match: cheap chips with integrated support for communications and displays, low costs for small text messages, great network coverage. But then the telecoms started shutting down the networks.

Now we are seeing the same thing with the push to 5G. I don't want 5G, I want 2G. Before there was TCP/IP over cellular networks, we had cellular packet data. Very power and network efficient, it was the basis for things like BlackBerry's push email. Now the 2G patents are expiring, so it could be cheap and ubiquitous, built into everything. But instead the 2G networks are getting shut down...

4G LTE has dramatically higher system spectral efficiency (in bits/Hz) compared to 2G - over 100x [0]. That's why 2G is getting decommissioned in favor of LTE (and 5G).

NB-IoT is probably where your application would go these days. Bi directional communication, cheap chips, and data plans around $10/device/year for 12MB [1], which is a lot of short messages (though things like OTA firmware updates might be painful).

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spectral_efficiency

[1] https://www.twilio.com/wireless/narrowband

Spectral efficiency is super important. Especially with IoT, because there are going to be so many devices. Trying to do that with old pager network bandwidth would quickly overload the network.

I am not talking about using the pager network for that, I am talking about the 2G network.

I am not opposed to using more efficient network protocols, more that we are endlessly replacing old technologies with completely new systems. The selling point of 3G/4G/5G has been that they will have more bandwidth, so people can watch videos or use self driving cars.

What is more interesting to me is embedding cheap low-bandwidth smarts in more devices. The costs of the new and immature hardware gets in the way of that.

> The selling point of 3G/4G/5G has been that they will have more bandwidth, so people can watch videos or use self driving cars.

In the cellphone commercial sure but in technical reality it's about device density. There is only one set of airspace and only certain chunks are useful for where we want to communicate; getting the most devices able to communicate has been the leading driver of RF planning and design for quite some time now. Bandwidth usually materializes out of a combination of more "slots" to talk and simply not using restrictions needed for 20 year old consumer hardware.

One of the goals of 4G/5G is to allow for the coexistence of high bandwidth devices with IoT.

I agree that at this point the cost of cellular IoT is higher than it should and the technology is immature. In the long term though, it would be a better choice than keeping a 2G network.

IoT is really several different kinds of devices. Many of which are extremely low bandwidth. When you’re talking a few per hour, spectrum bandwidth is simply a non issue.

A single device may be low bandwidth, but what about when you have thousands of such devices in a single apartment building?

100 bits per hour * 10,000 devices = 278 bits per second. That’s significantly less than the equivalent of a single cellphone per apartment building.

You're assuming they all spread out their communications evenly. What if they all want to send out a status update message on the hour?

That one of the reasons for the random delays are for in most network protocols. However, 10,000 devices sending 100 bits over say 10 seconds is still only 100kbps.

LTE-M / LTE cat.0 would be the ideal replacement for a pager. NB-IoT is not meant for mobility. NB-IoT has cell reselection mechanisms, so you can connect to a different base station, but the process is very energy demanding. It is meant to be used rarely, for example when a closer base station activates.

Also, firmware updates for these devices are a few KB typically and occur maybe once every 6 months. 12 MB per year should be enough.

If I am sending 100 bytes, then spectral efficiency is not my biggest problem.

NB-IoT is fine, I will have to use it. The cost of 4G/5G chips is a lot higher than older generations, to say nothing of what would happen if anyone can make chips.

Everyone just wants to sell me something new, because that's how they make money. When 3G came out all the telecoms were excited to sell video, as it would give higher average revenue per user. Turns out people don't want to pay more.

We get faster networks but keep the same price per GB, so with 5G I will be able to blow through my monthly bandwidth in 60 seconds. And that assumes that the carriers have the backbone capacity.

You don't need a full fledged 4G chip for NB-IoT - something like Quectel BC66 would work. Its ~€10/each for QTY250 [0], or €29 for QTY1 on a Arduino compatible dev board [1]. Ublox has a similar product for a similar price [2].

[0] https://www.avnet.com/shop/emea/products/quectel-wireless-so...

[1] https://www.tekmodul.de/produkt/bc66-dvk/

[2] https://www.u-blox.com/en/product/sara-r4-series

Spectral efficiency may not be an issue for you but it sure as hell is an issue for your carrier.

What people are telling you is that 5G is more than just a plot to sell you YouTube streaming. It is the only way carriers can scale the mobile network to meet its growing needs.

There are only so many ways you can cram more people into a shared medium like the RF spectrum....

> Now the 2G patents are expiring, so it could be cheap and ubiquitous, built into everything. But instead the 2G networks are getting shut down...

The frequency bands these older technologies run on are very, very valuable. The prices paid at the last FCC frequency auction are a tiny fraction of the revenue those frequency bands will earn over the next decades.

Also factor in that in many cases, no new equipment is available for replacement parts, service contracts get increasing expensive as vendors milk the older tech, expertise is lost, features like remote management and interoperability with recent technology is poor....

The list goes on and on.

It never ceases to amaze me that we allow our FCC to sell leases for so little. Instead of demanding companies share revenue or provide basic services for all for free, we allow this type of theft under colour of "fair governmental auction".

Remember, in the US, the FCC is only the current custodian of this shared property called the EM spectrum.

US citizens can and should take it back as their property, and demand all citizens profit equally from these auctions.

Other countries have declared internet access a basic human right... At a minimum that should be included in all future leases.

When European regulators auctioned off spectrum for UMTS use they got bids so high that the operators became capital constrained with respect to actually building the network.

I was working at British Telecom when they bought their 3G licenses for the UK. The stock dropped by 50%, making my options worthless. Not that I am salty.

I wonder if it is optimum for society to price the spectrum so high that it is barely possible to build on it, then transfer the costs to the consumer. Basically it's a tax on technology. Or if it's not so high, then it's a windfall to the carriers.

Some say that the high prices paid at frequency auctions are partially responsible for the high prices, shitty coverage, and mediocre bandwidth of mobile networks in Germany. Most of Europe is much better.

>Some say that the high prices paid at frequency auctions are partially responsible for the high prices, shitty coverage, and mediocre bandwidth of mobile networks in Germany.

I was just visiting Germany less than a year ago, and got a SIM card and a month of service there for EUR15. My coverage was just fine in cities and some smaller towns, and the data rate seemed just fine; I even used it for a VoIP conversation.

Your prices are much, much cheaper than here in the US. They're also significantly cheaper than Japan. From what I've read, your prices seem to be cheaper than, or on par with, most westernized countries. The only places that seem to be cheaper are eastern European places like Romania.

Seriously, I wish I could get good service as cheap as I found it in Germany; I'd be paying less than half of my current phone bill (and I already pay much less than most people I know, because they all insist on expensive full-service plans).

You should check out Sweden or Austria regarding prices and what you get for them!

Coverage on Autobahns and train lines is pretty bad. In some villages it's also bad.

Are you saying Sweden and Austria are even cheaper?

If so, that's great and all, but honestly, from an American perspective, EUR15 per month for 3GB of data is a very, very good deal. That's so cheap that I'm not sure I'd care much if another place was even cheaper.

I didn't notice any coverage problems while I was there, but admittedly I was only there 2 weeks, but I did take the trains a lot (but only in Bavaria). I never noticed any problems. I was using O2. I don't think the coverage was perfect all the time, but it's not perfect here in the US either, and I use Verizon which is generally accepted to have the best overall coverage nationwide.

In short, I think Germany has things pretty good from a global perspective, as far as cellphones go. Some other European places may be even better, but I just don't see much to complain about over there, when compared to any place outside of Europe.

Yes, I'm saying that you can get more and faster data for cheaper in most EU countries, and IIRC Sweden is an extreme case while Austria is also much better and right next to Germany, which is why I picked these two.

That's nothing though - in Seoul, people are watching YouTube videos on the subway. In Germany, it only became reasonably pleasant to read text websites on the phone in the subway a few years ago.

Yep and it's gonna be the same thing all over again with 5G.

At least you can rejoice that Austria was selected as the testing grounds for 5G before Germany. I was at the event where T-Mobile renamed themselves to Magenta and the CEO of Magenta "interviewed" the right-wing chancellor of Austria Sebastian Kurz as they laughed and announced Austria will roll 5G out before poor Germany. The audience didn't seem all that enthusiastic with the announcement, then again in Austria getting crowds really excited at business events is quite the challenge...

A friend of mine also has a map of 5G hotspots in Switzerland, and there are already quite a lot, e.g. in Geneva, for such a small city and they have at least multiple tens already installed.

The leases are sold at auction, so they go for what they go for. Remember, on top of buying the spectrum rights, companies have to invest a ton of capital in actually building networks. (It’s like leasing land to build a hotel. The land lease is going to be a small fraction of the hotel revenue.)

As to attaching “basic services” and other riders—these are outmoded, disproven ideas. Unfunded mandates and conditions invariably (1) reduce competition; (2) cost the public more money; and (3) produce opaque markets and trade offs that are impossible to quantify.

Granting license based on “public interest” type analysis is what got us into our current mess, with broadcasters holding valuable spectrum for low value television and radio services. (Likewise with the idea of granting cable monopolies in return for the public benefit of serving areas that would otherwise be unserved, which was such a bad idea Congress had to make it illegal.)

Almost every developed country has copied the US model of spectrum auctions. It was one of the foundational advances in the regulation of public goods in the 20th century. See: https://www.chapman.edu/ESI/wp/Porter-Smith-Hazlett-RadioSpe....

It never ceases to amaze me that we allow our FCC to sell leases for so little. Instead of demanding companies share revenue or provide basic services for all for free, we allow this type of theft under colour of "fair governmental auction".

I feel the opposite -- why are the leases so expensive? Billions of dollars paid to the government for spectrum is a hidden tax since it's paid by consumers.

Much better would be to sell them for the cost of administration of the sale, but only upon approval of a business plan that weighs the value to consumers in awarding the bid. So instead of selling to huge telcos that can afford to pay billions of dollars, it could be sold to a much smaller company that may provide a better value to end users.

The tax on consumers is appropriate because cell users should pay for the opportunity cost of removing the spectrum from other possible uses.

As to government review of business plans—the market is better at deciding what business models bring “better value to end users” than the government. We used to have exactly the model you suggest—the FCC would grant spectrum licenses based on its view of “the public interest.” It was a disaster—resulting in our current situation where huge amounts of spectrum are locked up in low value uses like over-the-air TV.

Over the air broadcast TV provided great value to consumers (and still does -- lets me watch local TV without needing to buy cable). The problem with broadcast TV is that the technology at the time meant that the spectrum had to be dedicated to TV and can't easily be phased out for other uses -- the cutover to digital TV was a huge ordeal. That's no longer the case, different users can share the same spectrum today.

If the lease was cheap, what would force the owner to price their services any cheaper? No one can compete with them anyway as they own the spectrum

Their approved business plan - that's the entire point of having a business plan review, not just picking the highest bidder.

If they say they are going to sell wireless broadband at $xx/mbit to consumers, they need to follow through or lose their spectrum allocation, so there's no incentive to lie.

You're more than welcome to get an Amateur Radio license and get the same access to spectrum, in some cases spectrum that's even better than what cellphones run on now.

Amateur Radio license holders can't use encryption in the USA. This kills a large portion of the use case for an amateur cellular network.

Would steganography count as encryption?

Yes although you might not get caught if you were careful and quiet.

You’re aloud to sign things, so if you’re doing ip/packet you can use client side certs for authentication and then I think with OpenSSL there’s a way to only enable the “null” cypher.

The other issue is you’re not supposed to use it for profit (except selling radio equipment and I think there are other rules on that too) so you really couldn’t usefully replace your internet connection with it.

The FCC is US citizens. Running an auction is the best way to get the most value at the present time for the spectrum.

> The prices paid at the last FCC frequency auction are a tiny fraction of the revenue those frequency bands will earn over the next decades.

The licenses that the FCC auctions off have a finite term. E.g. this [1] license is owned by AT&T and expires in 2021.

[1]: http://reboot.fcc.gov/spectrumdashboard/detailLicense.seam?c...

So over the next decades those carriers have to purchase it from the FCC again and again and again.

This is actually news to me and I’m pretty glad to hear it. I always assumed these companies could just sit on the frequencies after they bought them.

I was always pretty upset about the low unlicensed power levels living out in the country side as a kid. The cell companies weren’t using the frequencies out there so why couldn’t we?

I’ve heard tv white space actually works that way although some telcos “cheat” by reporting that they cover way more area than they do. I’m so glad to have moved far enough into the city that I no longer care.

I'm neither smart enough or well-connected enough to even hazard a guess but I wonder if there's an opportunity to acquire the older radio broadcasting assets and make them useful?

That's essentially what's going on with high TV channels right now. They're getting repacked into lower frequency bands so the high frequency channels can be used for cell phone service. You may have seen your local channel telling you to recant, that's why.

The FM/AM radio spectrum is too low frequency to be practical for cell phone use. The antennas would be outrageous.

Sure, you could get the equipment for next to nothing. But without a spectrum license it's useless.

LoRa probably works great, but I think the parent's point is that there are extremely mature, low-cost technologies that are a perfect fit already for their need and have existed for decades. It's frustrating to have those technologies disappearing and have to choose between either something mainstream that's more expensive or a handful of more novel things any of which might turn out to be a flash in the pan and a support nightmare down the road.

2G is horrible compared to 4G or 5G efficiency. Please do homework.

Why not RDS? Still ubiquitous and cheap to implement.

how did you do authentication?

I do sort of miss having a separate device for work, that work paid for, and that I could turn off when not on call. The two way pagers with the qwerty keyboard were pretty nice.

I know there are companies for which you BYOD your smartphone, but then they want to MDM that device of yours to protect company data. Ha!

Google has this neat implementation on Android where your work applications end up in a seperate profile that the company can manage. They can erase that profile but they can't see or manage any data outside of it.

This is the only way I'll ever allow work things on my phone.

Are there instructions on this anywhere? I get really annoyed at the MDM from my work email, which I can just get through the browser, but without it set up, I can't get work calendar notifications, which I do actually need.

Some further info on Work Profiles from Google: https://support.google.com/work/android/answer/6191949?hl=en

No just buy me a second device already if you want me to carry it and an on call agreement

Apple has something similar to this now as well.

I just don't bring my own device.

Gives iPhone to wife/kid sorry I don't have one I just borrow my wife/kid's when I need it, you can buy me one if you want.

>The two way pagers with the qwerty keyboard were pretty nice.

The modern equivalent of this is a Blackberry device. My employer provides work phones (a mix of iDevices, Samsung garbage, and blackberries) and even though I think the BB10 OS was a total failure as a consumer product, for a work device where I had no desire for Snapchat or whatever, my old BlackBerry was perfect.

All I need in a work phone is a solid email/SMS platform and my employer-provided iPhone X is way overpowered for that use case.

> My employer provides... blackberries

If it's still an option, I'd be amazed you don't take it. I still have and love my Q10, but Wire has upped their minimum API level to 5.0 (above the runtime RIM shipped).

Some companies would still pay for separate work device.

My company just straight up pays everyone $60 extra a month for cell phone use and lets us do what we want with that. Works out well imho.

Android used to be a bit of a security disaster too, but I quite like the separate work profile. Almost like having a second device without having to actually having to have that second device.

> Almost like having a second device

Especially when you have a dual-sim phone

I wonder if dual-SIM phones have the capability of setting call acceptance rules based on a schedule.

The dual-SIM phone I have doesn't, but it's an old Nokia-like candy bar phone made in Russia. That would be a very nice feature. Wish the U.S. would open its market to dual-SIM phones, but I guess the equipment manufacturers fear losing sales. It's really dumb.

You can get an "international model" of the Moto G on Amazon, then use Tasker to enable/disable one of the SIMs at a set schedule.

How does the US prevent the sale of dual-SIM phones? Most likely, it doesn't, they just don't sell them here because no one would buy them. I'm pretty sure you can get one off eBay and use it if you want.

There's a lot of things you can't easily buy in the US, but it's not because of some grand conspiracy, it's because American consumers wouldn't buy enough of those things to make it profitable to sell them. PC computers pre-loaded with Linux is one example (it's been tried, multiple times). Another example is "washlet" toilet seats, which almost every toilet in Japan is outfitted with. They were invented in the US, but good luck buying one here, though any appliance store in Japan will have them. They don't sell them in America because almost no one would buy them, because Americans just aren't as hygienic as Japanese.

Recent iPhone models can handle multiple SIMs, but only one physical SIM card. The rest have to be eSIMs.

I haven't seen this, but things like PagerDuty solve this. If you're not on call, your phone doesn't ring.

Those aren't that uncommon. We have the choice between a work provided phone and carrying 2 phones when on call, or a BYOD situation with a credit on our cell phone bill and only one phone. Either way, PagerDuty only rings us when we're on call.

We get a phone and sim from work. You could use it in a dual-sim phone along with your private sim (as a lot of colleagues do) but I choose to have separate phones. It's an Iphone SE, so not much bigger than a pager.

Curious what the state of the market is...does your employer neither provide a device + service on their dime or a cash outlay that you could use for a device + service?

They don't, but even if they did, dealing with a second phone is cumbersome around size, charging, distinct ringtones, silencing both for meetings, etc. The pager was just so simple. The Motorola T900 was very small, and ran 2 weeks or so on a single AA.

I do get it's probably a bit of real and a bit of nostalgia.

Sure, I hear you on that...but given the realities of today I am curious what you would prefer?

Something built into my Apple watch, maybe, that's my "notification" device. And it would be nice if it didn't cost $10/month to the carrier.

It feels as if Japan decided one day to just stop progressing. Lots of little things like this along with flip phones still being popular seem to emphasize a sort of complacent stagnation. That’s probably a little to harsh, but there’s definitely a feeling of slowness to me.

It is actually growing rapidly in Japan. But I think one reason that smartphone usage in adults in Japan is lower than other developed countries is because of their aging population. Their birthrates have been so low, it is hard to offset an aging population who are living longer and are unlikely to adopt smartphones.

That is sad. Biggest advantage of a beeper over a cell phone? Privacy. The beeper just receives and does not send your location.

Eh. In some aspects, sure. But everything sent to your pager is trivial to intercept, as it is simply sent in clear text.

I miss having a pager in the 90s and early 2ks. I basically could go anywhere I wanted, or be on the internet when my parents weren't home, and all they had to do was page me and I'd know I either needed to come home, call them ASAP or call them immediately.

I still remember the number too but don't remember a few of my phone numbers.

Anyone got pics of how pagers looked and worked in 1968?

All I found is this:

- Pager and It's Development: https://youtu.be/ebtppTU_sng?t=114

- Fancy Pager1970s Columbo: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rybqMKo8kQk

Here's wikipedia on the pageboy https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Motorola_Pageboy

They should all go off at once for a last hurrah.

All ten of them.

One way pagers are the last bastion of privacy friendly wireless communication.

Pagers several cell tower power failures, e.g. long term disasters like hurricanes. However they can fail in satellite failures, e.g. rare solar coronal mass ejections.

I’d love to be able to ditch my pager and rely solely on smartphone apps. Unfortunately there’s no way to get our alerting apps to override silent mode on iOS and they’re patchy on Android. So I keep a pager next to my bed to make sure I get woken up if something’s on fire.

End of an Era!

Well in Japan I suppose. In other parts of the world, we have wide area paging networks that are still running strong. My team builds and maintains a paging network that covers an area around 2/3 the size of Japan.

Nice. Which protocol are you using? How is equipment availability?

POCSAG. If you mean transmitters, we have a local supplier, no issues there.

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