Land of the Walking Dead Zone
Why pager replacement is still an issue
OnPage has what some might call a “hate/hate” relationship with pagers. Not much room for love. As we see it, pagers are an antiquated bit of technology. Pagers are dinosaurs which, like most dinosaurs, should be extinct by now.
You might be wondering why we’re at it again with our anti-dinosaur campaign? Haven’t we made our point in previous articles and thought pieces? Well, to be frank, the answer is NO. You see, last week we came across a great article in Computer World discussing the “dead zone” issue. A dead zone is an area where you cannot receive pages due to outside interference from technology or the environment you’re in.
Reading this article, we just couldn’t contain ourselves. See, the article reiterated all that we’ve rallied against in using pagers; why they are unreliable, why they can’t be trusted in an emergency, why they are obsolete. That kind of talk made us realize that the fight is still ongoing and that we need to bring the issue up once again.
What part of dead zone did you not understand?
This great Computer World article retold the told the tale of how a new hire is handed a pager on his first day of work at an IT company and told he will be on-call. The notion that pagers have problems and dead zones doesn’t seem to penetrate the consciousness of his manager:
I knew this particular paging provider didn’t work at my home. [I tell my] manager about the problem. Manager doesn’t actually say so, but makes it obvious that she doesn’t believe [me].
It then comes as no surprise that when there is an emergency, the new hire doesn’t receive the page at home. Readers of our OnPage blog won’t be surprised by this detail. Readers of our blog will also be sympathetic to the new hire’s getting heat from his boss when he didn’t answer the overnight page.
The reality is that environmental factors play a significant role in the ability of pagers to work. And, if you are in a job – IT operations, security, healthcare – where you need to respond to critical alerts, a dead zone can spell disaster.
Why pagers don’t work
What the Computer World article brings to the forefront is that pagers are an unreliable method for getting critical alerts through to their intended audience. Clear enough. The question that comes up though is why. Why don’t pages get through?
Well, the answer is primarily based on the technology that pagers use. Pagers use radio waves – like your radio. And radio waves can be picky. Based on the strength of the transmission signal, the page will not be receivable outside the coverage area. Additionally, if your building has a metal roof, the radio waves might be interrupted. Radio waves can also be corrupted by interference from other electronic equipment like your pc or cellphone or microwave. Who knew pagers were so finicky?
But an even greater problem is that the pagers are not designed to repeat the page if you don’t hear it the first time. They are not a persistent form of relaying messages. Unlike the cellphone-based critical alerting which OnPage uses, pagers don’t have redundancies. So, if you don’t get the page from work the first time, you’re up that proverbial creek. Without a paddle.
Why pager replacement is the answer to dead zones
When pagers have shown themselves to be so unreliable, those who rely on pagers for critical alerts must find an alternative. OnPage’s technology is wi-fi enabled and offers redundancies that pagers don’t. So, if you are in a dead zone, OnPage offers redundancies via email, sms as well as phone to repeat the message. Really, there’s no way to miss the message.
Additionally, the technology provided by OnPage ensures that the message will continue for up to 8 hours until responded to. So, if you miss the alert for any reason and haven’t enabled the redundancies, your message is never lost with OnPage. The message stays and continues to alert you until it is responded to.
The way we see it, you can continue hoping that your boss understands when you don’t respond to pages or you can suggest a solution that actually works. Your explanation of dead zones might get a bit old after a while. Your boss might even become a bit ticked off when you continue to ignore critical alerts.
Think of it as job security. Or just plain security. Suggest a paging solution that actually works. Try OnPage.
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