Radio Paging has been available in the UK for many years now and despite it's reduced popularity with the boom of the mobile phone, there are still benefit's in having a pager. Read on to make sure you don't end up buying something as useful as a chocolate fireguard !
Once upon a time, there were many Paging service providers, including Mercury and BT - however the majority of paging companies have long gone and there remains only a few left, with PageOne being the main player and Vodafone running primarily a rental only service. Take this into consideration when buying a pager so as not to buy something that simply doesn't work !
Several years ago, BT and the telecoms watch-dog Ofcom ran a major upgrade to all telephone area codes which included the introduction of some new STD codes (eg 020 for London), plus the migration of all mobile numbers to start 07. The same project brought all pager devices together to start with an 07 number too. So, rule of thumb is that if a pager you're considering buying starts with an 07 number, you've more chance of it working when you get it (ask the seller, they should know). That's not to say that older pagers starting 08 won't work as it's possible that a quick call to PageOne with the pagers details might get it re-registered, but anything with a different prefix to mentioned, just avoid. (Contact PageOne for further advice - Google search them).
There are also several types of pager and it's easy to buy the wrong thing. Most people think that all pagers will receive full text messages - this isn't the case.
- The basic pagers are known as Numeric and they quite simply receive a numbered message only. Callers to numeric pagers are greeted by an automated system that invites them to enter a numbered message on their telephone keypad and it's this number thats sent to the pager. It could be a telephone number or even an agreed coded message (i.e. 999 might mean ring home urgently).
- Alphanumeric pagers will receive full messaging. You can either send a numeric message as above, or be invited to speak with an operator who'll take a full message (relatively short) that will be sent to the paging device.
- Site paging. These aren't generally advertised by this description, but there's a type of pager that is designed only to work in a small area i.e. within a hospital, factory etc. These are customized for the site they're working on only and the site can add or remove pagers from a local system as required. They are not full public pagers and as such can not be made to work with a paging service company !
- Finally ... there used to be Tone pagers - in fact there still are but you're unlikely to find them working on a non-rental service. They go bleep only (no display) which prompts the user to ring home, office or whomever has the pager number. They don't get used much, so don't bother unless your buying one for your own private museum of past gadgets !
Note specific for BT listed pagers: As mentioned, the BT network no longer operates. Generally, most BT pagers can't be re-registered, so should be avoided (unless you have access to some fancy reprograming and tweaking equipment).
Although it's possible to have a pager operating on a monthly contract charge (pre-paid, similar to contract mobile phones), the most common pager you're likely to find on ebay is a CPP type, or Calling Party Pay's. Quite simply, this means there are no on-going charges or rental costs for the owner of the pager, but costs are recovered from the caller and charged to their BT phone bill. Costs vary but are generally between 25p and 40p per message.
It's a difficult subject to write about completely and there simply isn't the space to comment on every type and model of pager, but the above is intended as a guide and pointer for prospective buyers. I hope this helps and you don't get caught out.