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How Does a Pager Work?

How Does a Pager Work?

How Does a Pager Work?

A pager is a small wireless telecommunication device that recieves radio signals from a paging network on a specific radio frequency. In the case of two-way pagers, radio signals can be sent both to and from the pager. 

In order to understand how a pager works, think of a pager as a very simplistic radio, that only has the capacity to listen to a single "radio station".  The pagers on that specific paging network have built in receivers that are tuned to the same frequency. As long as the pager is on it is "listening" to that specific frequency or "radio station". 

Radio towers and/or transmitters in the paging network broadcast a signal over a specific radio frequency. Each pager has a specific Channel Access Protocol (CAP code) or number that identifies it from all other pagers or devices on the paging network.  When a message is sent, the paging network's tower broadcast the message from a radio transmitter on the paging network. Pagers that are on that specific frequency and physically located within the broadcast range of the paging terminal listen for signals that reference their specific "cap code". When the pager "hears" it's unique identifying code (cap code) they receive the message and alert that a new message has been received. The pager may also provide additional information like text or a number depending on the type of pager. The alerts can be either audible or a vibration depending on the pagers specified settings. 

There are two types of paging networks on-site and regional or nationwide. The on-site paging networks are commonly found in hospitals or even restaurants. Onsite paging systems use local transmitters to broadcast messages over the coverage area. The coverage area is typically limited to the facility or a very limited area surrounding the facility. 

Regional or nationwide paging networks cover a much larger area. Regional or nationwide paging networks have towers built out over a specific geographical region or even the entire nation. Regional and/or nationwide paging networks have a far wider reach and use a network of overlapping transmitters and towers to cover the specified region. The underlying technology used to send text messages over over an on-site paging network and a regional/nationwide paging network is the same, the coverage area is the only difference. 

Article Date: June 6, 2022

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