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Off Topic Wireless - If it receives or transmits and it doesn't fit in anywhere else, WayneH will probably move it here

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Old 12-04-2018, 8:52 PM
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Exclamation Deathknel of pagers?

Looks like Japan is ditching the pager:


https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20181203_12/
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Old 12-04-2018, 9:26 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aggie72 View Post
Looks like Japan is ditching the pager:


https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20181203_12/
Pager? Whats a pager? Oh, I remember now. Those were those little boxes that everyone wore back in the 90's (before we all had cell phones) that buzzed at you and gave you the phone number of someone so you could call them back from a "payphone". I don't think I have seen someone wearing a pager for more than 15 years.

Wait, payphone? What's a payphone?
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Old 12-05-2018, 10:46 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SteveSimpkin View Post
Pager? Whats a pager? Oh, I remember now. Those were those little boxes that everyone wore back in the 90's (before we all had cell phones) that buzzed at you and gave you the phone number of someone so you could call them back from a "payphone". I don't think I have seen someone wearing a pager for more than 15 years.

Wait, payphone? What's a payphone?
Unfortunately, they are still very popular and very much in use within the health care industry in the US. Mainly hospitals but still carried by doctors for after hours emergencies.

It would not hurt my feelings at all if they shut them down in this country as well!
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Old 12-05-2018, 11:19 AM
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Boston EMS still owns and operates a proprietary paging system. Everyone must have their pager on them when working. Came in very handy for issuing coordination messages while keeping the voice channels open for higher priority messages during the Marathon bombing. It looks like we'll be moving to Everbridge shortly, but I'm sure the system will be maintained.
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Old 12-05-2018, 1:42 PM
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It really depends on the type of pager. The "beeper" text based pager most are commonly familiar with is still alive and well in the medical industry in the US. Many hospitals still have their own paging systems as they've often proven to be more cost-effective to install and maintain compared cellular and 802.11 based technologies (and you don't have to mess with BDA systems and the IT department). Text based pagers never really took off for first responders in the US like it did in Europe though.

Most rural fire departments in the US still rely extremely heavily on two-tone pagers; even those on trunking systems. The reason being they are extremely reliable and simple often providing coverage in areas where cell carriers simply can't justify adding cells due to a lack of potential revenue. Configure a SU or console for a two-tone sequence and press the PTT button and speak your message. The beauty of it, its not a 1 to 1 page (like the page/call alert function on P25), or a talkgroup page (this one is problematic on large systems) and can utilize simple FM receivers (meaning low cost).
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Old 12-05-2018, 2:57 PM
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For my specific area, cellular isn't reliable enough for emergency use. Pagers have all but disappeared and most "assume" that cellular is better.

Unfortunately the cell carriers rarely want to invest in the necessary infrastructure to properly back up their systems. Ignored battery plants, lack of generators, over reliance on IP backhaul, etc. all creates issues for us.

Each time we get a big power outage, I get complaints from others where I work. I explain it's one of the reasons we have our own radio systems with multiple levels of backup.

While consumer paging systems do need to ride off into the sunset, there is still a need for mission critical communications resources. Too many assume cellular will fill that role.
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Old 12-05-2018, 5:08 PM
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Paging systems are often used for non-traditional, one-way uses - like remotely rebooting equipment, turning sprinklers on/off and programming electronic signs. You can have one cap-code and address a number of discrete paging receivers individually with a simple preamble message.
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Old 12-08-2018, 12:44 AM
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I have a Universal M400 Decoder from the mid 90s and I still pick up pager signals. Some from the medical field and some seems to be personal [as to what they are using I am not sure].

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Old 12-08-2018, 3:33 AM
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aggie72 - not supprising as Japan has some of the most Advanced Radios. In Japan they have small, low power radios , that transmit over IP inside buildings and Hospitals. Yupiteru makes them as well as other Radio manufacturs like ICOM and Kenwood. In America my County Hospital nursing staff uses small IP radios (pagers), to communicate with Nurse Desk, for when Patients press the call button. but the Doctors still have Digital pagers but perhaps they might adopt soon.
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Old 12-08-2018, 3:37 AM
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SteveSimpkin - kids today are going to have a hard time learning about old Technology, such as the Rotary Dial, the Typewriter, the Dial up Modem and other Technologies.
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Old 12-08-2018, 10:32 AM
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Default My two cents

My two cents on the topic - and that is probably all it is worth.

Background:

I am a RF contractor working out in the Stix. My home county contains 17,000 souls and 860 square miles. Half the county is flat, and the other half has 400 foot elevation changes or is so hilly that it you stretched it out we would probably have over 2,000 square miles.

I am also a firefighter - belt, suspenders plus a spare rope just in case.

Local Public Safety is VHF-Hi, like our neighbors. My PS two-way infrastructure is dumb stupid old fashioned analog JPS-SNV voting. Seven RX Sites and four primary TX sites give me a reliable 90% portable coverage, duplicated over three channels. (Geek alert- I get full quieting with a mobile 0.20 uV in the air at all sites. Yeah, wow!) Backhauls are our own proprietary digital microwave. Each site has a standby generator plus 24 hours of battery backup just in case.

Ten years ago we committed to that infrastructure system because replacing many hundred existing mobiles and portables was not financially possible. Analog also has the advantage of playing "something" through interference. Digital systems - I do them also - are good, until any interference pushes the BER over the max and the radio remains blissfully silent. Not an acceptable situation if the interference makes one miss a "SHOTS FIRED" or "MAYDAY" message.

Fire and EMS paging for all eleven agencies is VHF-Hi analog tone + voice on one common channel. The system is not "Pin-Drop-Digital-Clear", but is reliable and within local budgets. Paging RF comes from seven old fashioned analog repeaters - not over the microwave links in case one fails. Plus, the central coverage TX site automatically repeats all pages after a 15-second delay for redundancy. This is our own one-way notification system and per NFPA carries no mobile traffic. Belt and suspenders.

Most agencies also get a smart phone app notification or text - the spare rope. Cell coverage is so spotty that some responders report getting the app/text after they are at the fire house putting on their gear.

The state's 800 P25 trunking system has 16 sites with county coverage, but portables still require a vehicle repeater to be reliable in a healthy percentage of the county.

We only have two significant cellular carriers but neither has smart phone coverage more than 80%. The two do not hand off between them, so while smart phones show service, calls are often dropped. The Sheriff moved their phone service to FirstNet - a great system IF AT&T has universal data-grade coverage - and deputies now report no usable service with alarming regularity. Hopefully that will change over time, but we are not on FirstNet's "A" list.

End of background and on to the OP's topic.

We have three analog VHF paging transmitters for three different carriers in the county. Grandfathered super-super-wide channels with very high horsepower ERP's, smack in the middle of the VHF-Hi band. One is a half mile from my home, and is so big and dirty it wacks out VHF reception across the entire band. Out of curiosity I set my SDR/PC to record and decode over a weekend. All of the traffic was phone numbers or alpha "Dr. X call ER" for a hospital 200 miles away.

One of my county RX sites is six miles and two miles away from wide-area paging transmitters, with a many-thousand-dollar RF filter system. Any test receiver pre-filter suite is useless from front end overload when either pager company transmitter is up. Mobile and portable radios in many areas suffer from the same issues. Even my coax-based cable TV and Internet signals are degraded when the system is paging Dr. X who is hundreds of miles away. (I cannot wait for Cable TV fiber hook-up coming the first of the year.)

I have worked with paging company field techs resolving interference issues. Nice folks, but tasked with patching together thirty-year-old equipment using only band-aids and duct tape. One problem was traced to an ancient RF filter can, and the replacement the tech brought was a take-out from an even older system. The jumper coax fell apart when he removed it, and he had no replacements on his van. (I donated brand new jumpers to get them running.)

Opinion: Paging companies no longer have subscriber cash flow to finance repairs and maintenance. I try to keep the equipment I build/maintain to the R-56 standard. At best, paging company's cash flow only lets them get to "R-5-point-6".They are not good RF neighbors to have. I suspect many other contractors have the same opinion.

Opinion: The wide area paging-only industry is dead. There are better alternatives, either a properly-maintained local transmitter for each hospital or cellular based service for when Dr. X is not nearby. Their time has passed and I personally cannot wait for the US to follow Japan.
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Last edited by jeatock; 12-08-2018 at 10:44 AM..
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Old 12-08-2018, 9:45 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Project25_MASTR View Post
….
Most rural fire departments in the US still rely extremely heavily on two-tone pagers; even those on trunking systems. The reason being they are extremely reliable and simple often providing coverage in areas where cell carriers simply can't justify adding cells due to a lack of potential revenue …
The volunteer FD in my area want a pager. They don't want to carry an APX or similar sized radio everywhere they go.
There was chatter about setting up the 800 radios so they would receive a page.
But VFD would rather just leave the radio in the car, and carry a beeper in their pocket when out on the town.
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Old 12-08-2018, 11:17 PM
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Talking Still fun to listen to

I built a POCSAG decoder back in the early 90's from Pop Electronics. “Decoder” here means that it converted the sound into square waves that the software could use to turn it into text. The software (DOS running on my 486) was free to download but only worked for about 15 minutes. As I recall you could get the full version for $$. There were hundreds of freqs to monitor back then.

Recently I wanted to see what is still out there so I downloaded PDW to use with my SDR setup and it's still a whole lot of fun. PDW has many modes that it can decode. I monitored the bands and only found about half a dozen or so freqs with pager data ( a couple in the 150-3 MHz range and more around 929 to 930 MHz. Most of them would decode so long as the signal was strong and clear enough. Just about all were hospital / EMS traffic.

Still fun to be able to catch what’s going through the air!
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Old 12-09-2018, 2:47 AM
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Default Pagers -- Tons Of Stuff

Besides tons of hospital pages to nurses and doctors, there are tons of pages for alarms. Cisco equipment fans, refrigerator temp monitors, water level alarms, etc. Also alarms for software, like your Oracle database just ran out of free space. I often wonder who is on the receiving end of these alarm pages.

Whomever built these systems decided that failure to receive an alarm because your smartphone has no reception or the battery died won't cut it. "Gee, I'm sorry that your 5 year experiment was ruined because the refrigerator coolant failed. Better luck next time. Ms. Smith, I'm sorry we can't give you a painkiller right now, but we can't get ahold of your doctor. He's probably dining at a waterfront restaurant in a fringe area. We humbly apologize to the 10,000 cable subscibers who had no Internet service for 2 hours because our oncall technician was unaware that the fan in the network switch failed, causing it to overheat and shutdown."
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