How Much Will a Pager Service Cost You

A pager service can be a low-cost alternative to carrying a cell phone for text or numeric messages. While simple pager systems can be a bargain, more complex pager services that let you send as well as receive messages can add a lot to your bill, so it's worthwhile to spend some time thinking about the features you truly need.

One-Way Versus Two-Way Service
A one-way service enables you to receive messages on your pager, while a two-way service allows you to both send and receive messages from your pager. One-way services are the least expensive option, but two-way services may be justified if you need to respond to pages when you can't reach a phone.

Numeric Versus Alphanumeric
Pagers that offer numeric service only receive numbers. You can receive a phone number to call with this type of service, and use number codes to transmit a basic message. However, with numbers only, paging is drastically limited.

Alphanumeric pager service enables you to receive both numbers and letters, so you can receive text along with the phone number. This is preferable if you want people to be able to leave you messages quickly and easily, or if you'll regularly be dealing with people who don't know pager codes. Many services now offer both numeric and alphanumeric functionality on the same plan, but confirm with your pager provider to determine which you can use. You'll pay more for alphanumeric service than you will for plain numeric service, and you'll pay a lot more for two-way alphanumeric service.

Counting Text Blocks
Most pager plans charge based on the number of text blocks you receive, or send and receive if it's a two-way plan. You can pay a flat fee for a set number of text blocks; for example,  $20 for 125 text blocks, or $23 for 250 text blocks. Each text block is basically one page, although you should consult the pager service provider for specific information about text blocks and pricing schemes.

Is E-mail Included?
Many paging services include an e-mail that people can use to page you. If your pager service provides an e-mail, you can have a client e-mail an alphanumeric page to your pager instead of calling the pager service and following prompts to send a message. E-mail provides a convenient way for people to send you messages, and is often a premium feature offered with mid-range and high-end pager plans.

Service Area Affects Costs
Some pager services provide nationwide service as part of the plan, while others offer both statewide and nationwide plans. Consider the service area, and whether you'll only use the pager in a particular location or whether you need to be able to receive messages around the country. The larger the service area, the higher the bill.

Does The Plan Include a Pager?
Most pager service providers require you to purchase the pager separately, but some providers offer you complete pager systems, including the pager itself. When you're evaluating pager service costs, consider the initial hardware purchase as well as monthly fees for the pager itself. Pagers aren't that expensive to buy, so you might save by purchasing a pager and then looking for service.

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