Fri. May 24th, 2019

Japan’s final pager provider to end its service in 2019

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Retro tech: When the pager was king

Japan’s last pager provider has announced it will end its service in September 2019 – bringing a national end to telecommunication beepers, 50 years after their introduction.

Around 1,500 users remain subscribed to Tokyo Telemessage, which has not made the devices in 20 years.

Hospital workers favour them as they do not emit electromagnetic waves, the Japan Times reports.

The once-popular devices are able to receive and show wireless messages.

Users would then find a phone to call the sender back.

Developed in the 1950s and 1960s, they grew in popularity in the 1980s. By 1996, Tokyo Telemessage had 1.2 million subscribers.

However, the rise of mobile phones rendered the pager obsolete, and few remain worldwide.

Emergency services, however, continue to use the reliable technology – including in the UK.

Pagers are still in use in the NHS

A 2017 report estimated that the NHS uses roughly 130,000 pagers – one tenth of those left in the world – at a cost of £6.6m ($8.4m), as well as thousands of fax machines.

Vodafone announced it would end its pager service last year, leaving PageOne as the only operator of a network remaining in the UK.

Japan also continues to use fax machines, despite its technological reputation.

Their cyber-security minister, Yoshitaka Sakurada, announced last month that he had never once used a computer – baffling citizens and fellow politicians.

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