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Do Pagers Still Exist?

By June 15, 2014blog

By Mark Carlin, VP Sales Americas

You’d think that in this day and age, when everyone has a smartphone, even children, that no one would be using pagers anymore. I read recently that in the US over 65% of people own smartphones. Why would anybody even need a pager? And do beepers still work?

In fact, there are roughly 5 million beepers still in regular use. Apparently, pager companies have a very loyal market, although shrinking but nonetheless very profitable.

Why do people still use pagers?

  1. Unlike smartphones, pagers are reliable. They work when you need them to work. They have much better coverage in places like large indoor complexes, basements, closed studios and other areas with poor reception.
  2. Pagers are also very low maintenance. If a pager runs out of power, you just change the batteries. No need for a charger.
  3. Smartphones, with all their applications, can be very distracting. Pagers just deliver the message, but no one plays around with their pager.
  4. Pagers are much less expensive than cell phones; while cellphone contracts cost upwards of $120 a month, pagers can cost less than $15 a month.

How do pager companies manage to still stay in business?

In one word: segmentation. They only go after specific market segments such as healthcare and only focus on geographic areas that they can afford to put up towers or on building equipment. For example, if a pager company manages to sell their pagers to one hospital, and the necessary infrastructure is already set up, then they will also target other businesses in the immediate area.

Will critical message apps replace pagers?

Well, we at TeleMessage certainly hope so. It is no secret that we’ve been replacing pagers for a while now. The benefit of most pager replacement solutions has been convenience, carry fewer devices and receive SMS instead of pages. But over the past few years another benefit has emerged; security. Information sent via an alphanumeric pager is broadcast over the airwaves unencrypted. It turns out that anyone with a scanner and some open source software and a little know how can easily intercept these messages. Enter the new secure pager replacement solutions offering IP based secure messaging, which can encrypt all network transmissions as well as data stored on servers and on devices. Even though some of the pager companies have made some adjustments by using HTTPS and secure WCTP, security is still lacking. Even the companies that have added their own mobile applications and sell SMS delivery are still seeing their business decline.

The four basic advantages to owning pagers still exist; they cost less, they are low maintenance, they are less distracting and they are reliable. But as more market segments become concerned about managing, controlling and securing their messages, those loyal pager customers will become fewer and fewer.

So, do beepers still work?  Yes, but not forever.

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