Radiopaging: 60 years on

Derek Banner discusses the benefits of modern paging technology, together with the main players in the industry and their products

Invented in 1956 by Multitone, radiopaging was first used at Guy’s and St Thomas’ hospitals in London to alert doctors that needed to attend an emergency immediately. Since the early days of simple beepers, paging has evolved dramatically. Today pagers will display a text message of up to 1,000 characters. They can be combined with GSM or IoT technology to create a feedback and communication channel. Encryption and increases in transmission speed have made them even safer and more reliable. The two standards that prevail today are POCSAG and FLEX.

There are two distinct classes of paging service. The first is on-site paging systems that are used in hospitals, prisons, factories and other establishments to convey information across a limited geographical site. The other category is wide-area paging, which provides radio coverage across a whole country or a very wide area such as a state in the US.

However, paging’s advantages have made it a standard for safety-critical and dedicated applications where fast, accurate and reliable messaging communications are mission-critical. To understand why we need to look at the two key components of a paging solution: the network and the pagers themselves.

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