Can you buy pagers anymore?

I want to as offline as I can but my company require me to be available on call for work.

Can we get paging systems these days?

I'd love to have something that: - uses less battery - works in a plane - only receives, doesn't transmit - easier to water proof and hack on - works in hospitals and sensitive electrical environments - informs me and allows me to answer when I want rather than being at the beck and call of of people

^ that's a pager!

But where can I buy such a thing these days and what is the state of it now? Are satellite pagers possible now for increased coverage?


Google "pager service providers", whole bunch come up.

Can't use a pager in an Airplane as it is an RF device and should also be turned off. Company pay for the phone? Would they tolerate the time it takes you to hunt up a phone to call back? You might find that, for the coverage, a phone is about the same cost. If you don't use it heavily you might look at the various pre-paid plans. Buy as little or as much phone as you want and pay for the amount of time you expect to use it.

Another question - In this day and age, will your clients/customers/employer tolerate you having a pager, or do they expect/demand that you have a phone?

Can’t use a pager in an Airplane as it is an RF device and should also be turned off.

Something there I’ve never understood. Was just discussing it with a friend yesterday. I can only assume:

(a) When the engineers were sitting around designing the avionics, someone jumped up and said “hey, I know, let’s use the same bands as mobile phones!”, and/or

(b) They decided to save a few bucks and skip the RFI/EMI testing before building hundreds of airliners for various well-known airlines.

Now certainly I understand that it’s a situation where taking all possible precautions is prudent. At the same time I’d bet good money that some number of people forget or simply refuse to turn their technology off.

And where are the NTSB reports that say “Little Johnny didn’t turn his gizmo off, and the plane crashed, or flew to the wrong airport, or emptied the loo over Donald Trump’s house”?

You have to consider that an Airplane is a complex device operating in 3 dimensions and is not really constrained in any of those dimensions. (Car car is really just operatoes in 2 dimensions unless it goes airborne and is then uncontrolled and only ballistic) As such, the idea is that safety of the occupants of the plane, those who might be in nearby aircraft and those on the ground would require that in cases where some device might interfere it would better if the possible interfering device be disabled.

And it is not always that your device would directly interfere, but it would be possible for several devices to interact and by heterodyning to produce signals that could be problematic.

Radios do not just use the receive frequency, but they internally heterodyne with some Intermediate Frequency (mixers and IF), often over several steps to get to the decoded and usable signal. A common IF frequency in consumer products is 10.7 Mhz. SO - if you were wanting to recieve a signal at 120.7 Mhz, you would mix it with an Intermediate Frequency of 110 Mhz, or 131.4 Mhz. And depending on what other signals are out there a strong signal on 99.3 Mhz or 142.1 Mhz could overload the desired signal (interfere) and keep you from receiving the desired information.

For recent news about such a problem lookup GPS & LightSquared. LightSquared wants to put a terrestrial service that uses frequencies close to the GPS frequencies and thinks that everyone should upgrade their GPS so LightSquared won't have to worry about interfering. Close Strong signals overloading a reciever that is looking for a distant weak signal renderring the GPS reciever unusable.

SO the issue for Aircraft is this - would you rather turn off your electronic device, pay for testing to see if there is a possible problem, or just take your chances that it will work OK? The FAA opted for the safest method, shut things off and they CAN'T interfere...

I suspect from reading between the lines of your post that you really want something that will 'legally' satisfy your companies requirement that you be available on call, but making it as least intrusive on you as possible. If it is a job requirement I would think you would want something easy for the 'customers' trying to contact you rather then having them jump through hoops because you feel being on-call is somehow unfair? I know this can be a sore point for many employees but having been on both sides of that equation and requirment I think a more professional outlook on the situation might be worth considering. Cell phone with voice mail is what I would recommend.


Thanks for replies, I'll have to check them out.

To be fair I don't think a pager will be able to help too much with the intrusiveness side. Besides, for me its not the intrusiveness because I understand that I'm being paid to be on call. It's more about being caught off guard. Last time I really dropped the ball and thinking aloud mentioned something I shouldn't. You see the call can come at any point and typically the boss will ask me a question and because I haven't worked in months its only after I put the phone down I realise there was something I've missed.

But personally I'd be looking to set it up forwarded from my mobile phone. This way it would kick in when I go out of phone signal. Since being on call I'm amazed how many places don't have signal. I've swapped to another provider and so now I get slightly better 2g coverage but only 3g in cities. Whenever I go out of signal though I'm constantly worrying about it. It would be nice to reduce that worry and be able to do water sports etc, I've broken enough phones trying to be available.

I had a discussion with someone today who suggested never answer the phone, just ignore it and call them back when you've had a moment to get your head in gear.

But the reason why I post here is because the technology is interesting. Its receive only. A mobile phone is actually polling the base station all the time and there's something I find messy about this. A radio ham might understand. A receive only device feels much more passive. They make sense in hospitals. Since a pager is receive only then surely it should be phone safe?

I also find the idea of receive only transmissions rather interesting in themselves. A pager can't be tracked, its lower in power... I just like efficiency...

There are times when its really nice to go offline. Now I know a pager isn't offline psychologically but it is a compromise due being receive only. After a big job work generally don't call for the first 2weeks. Once I took this time to visit the amazon. We stayed on the edge of the forest and I took a slight risk in the sense that there was no signal. I have to say this feeling of no power grid or signal was one of the most memorable moments of my life. I cant describe the feeling, it could have brought me to tears. There a lot to be said to having a small element to this in life... if possible

Also, I think there is actually a lot of coded transmission out there. For example many people these days have no clue about shortwave radio, even long wave or the extra info you can get from gps and other broadcasts. I'd love to learn more. If I said that a radio can work without a battery people would think voodoo but a crystal radio set isn't a new age therapy.

Pagers use the "side bands" on commercial or public FM broadcast stations. That is why pagers work in places cell phones hven't got a hope in hell of working!

Here in South Australia, MMM-FM, a community radio station, sell their side band for "Muzak".

Emergency services like our Country Fire Service use pagers, as do the Ambo's.

FM radio transmitters don't mess around power wise, they transmit in the mega watt level.

I would assume that there is a service somewhere that accepts pager-like one-way messages and forwards them to your (otherwise unlisted) cellphone by SMS? It would let people contact you without giving away quite as much privacy.

Yeah, there are still pagers. Note that some modern pagers are two-way.

Here's a true story from when I carried a pager back in the day....

I was out of the office all day and arrived at my last appointment about 4pm. As I walked in, the guy I was due to see was walking out- he'd been called to one of his clients and couldn't see me. He told me he had phoned my office to try prevent me driving to his place, and had asked our secretary to try to get hold of me. At that point I doubled-checked that my pager was on, which it was.

Next morning I asked the secretary if the guy had phoned?- yes she said.

And did he ask you to try get a message to me?- indeed he had.

So... why didn't you page me?

(Bear in mind, readers, that this is a True Story..... Here comes the punchline.....)

I couldn't, she replied..... I didn't know where you were.

Was she blonde?


It's funny you should ask that... she was indeed.

And she had a wonderful pair of b....rains