by David W. Boles

PAGENET
The PageNet Motorola Gold FLX alphanumeric pager is simply the best service and pager you can buy today — that’s a mouthful to read, but as you take in an eyeful of it all above, you’ll soon understand how the secret to screening the world can rest in the palm of your hand.

The value of a pager isn’t simply the physical pager or the ether of the paging provider: It’s the combination of the two together that creates the penultimate paging experience. PageNet and Motorola make an unbeatable combination of excellence and unequalled reliability as you’ll soon discover.

PageNet nationwide alphanumeric serice with a rented pager will cost you around $50.00 a month depending upon your locale. Local alpha paging will cost you around $15 a month for service and rental fees. Purchasing your pager will lower your overall paging nut.

PageNet is the nation’s largest wireless messaging company and the premier paging carrier network in the world. PageNet offers local, regional and nationwide service in over 93% of the United States. Pieces of Cananda are also online in the PageNet international paging network.

PageNet offers a suite of services: Your callers can send you text pages from the Internet, you can have PageNet Personal Toll-Free Voice Mail that pages you with a waiting Voice Mail indicator, you can have Operator Text Dispatch Service to give your callers the personal touch in sending your messages, and of course, you can have callers get you messages via standard Dial-In Paging.

For more information on services, terms of coverage and other cool options, visit PageNet online at http://www.pagenet.com, but beware that the PageNet site is optimized for Netscape Navigator 2.0 and above.

Using Internet Explorer won’t give you the same experience of the screenshots you see here. For some reason, IE can’t handle the JavaScript on the PageNet homepage, and can’t fire the child client demonstrated above.

WEAR YOUR BUTLER ON YOUR BELT
98% of pages are information only: there’s no need to take action after getting a page. So, using an alphanumeric pager (a pager that gives you text messages as well and numbers) is 100% better than a numeric only pager that demands you call the number that paged you in order to get the information.

Using an alphanumeric pager in conjunction with a cellular phone as a method of staying in touch with people, you’d give callers your pager information and not your cellular number. If people need to contact you, they send you a text message instead of calling you. Using this strategy, you become the one in control of all calls charged to your cellular account. Once you’re paged with a text message, you are the one who decides if you spend the money to make a cellular callback or not.

An alphanumeric pager is your privacy screen, your secretary, your answering machine, your butler, your yellow post-it sticky notes and your loose stack of pink “While You Were Out” messages all rolled into a single, small, simple box.

CNN UPDATES
Silent CNN news updates are part of the bundled nationwide service you get with PageNet. By default, you aren’t “paged” when the news updates stream in because they’re constantly being updated and you’d spend all your days clearing the alerts. But the waiting message indicator on your pager will flash when you have unread news stories.

You can always set your pager to alert you to the News drops if there’s something you want to keep your eye on — like a national emergency, stock changes or weather alerts.

Getting instant CNN updates is fantastic because you’re always in the loop of what’s happening in real time around the world. If you’re a news junkie, you’ll really love this special PageNet service feature. Here are the message slots CNN updates for you all day every day: U.S. News, World News, Markets, Business, Weather, Showbiz, Features and Sports.

MOTOROLA ADVISOR GOLD FLX
The PageNet service is brought to you (interpreted) in the form of a pager. The Motorola Advisor Gold FLX is a stellar update to the old rubber button clunk-a-dunk Motorola Advisor because this new Advisor Gold FLX is lighter, has more message capacity and uses the Optimax Holographic display for rich display of backlighted text from any angle. The screen on the Advisor Gold FLX is smaller than the one you find on the old Advisor, but it is 100% brighter and more readable.

The Advisor Gold FLX lets you choose between 8 audible alarms and one vibration mode. The Gold FLX slides into a small holster on your belt — or you can simply pocket it or purse it if you like. The action buttons are sleek and smooth recessible padettes or action levers. The display is 4 line X 80 character matrix of possibility and total characters handled is a stunning 30,000. You have 19 personal message slots, 15 information service slots, 255 personal notebooks and 255 Information Service notebooks.

The Motorola Gold FLX shows time of day and date and it also date and time stamps all pages up receipt. A graphical battery gauge is not only a necessary feature, but its helpful design is lovely because you always know how much juice is left in the can. You can set alarms easily. You can delete individual messages or choose to Erase All with one button push. Motorola has banged home a grand slam with its re-design of the Advisor!

Because of the special Motorola-invented FLEX paging protocol between PageNet and the Advisor Gold FLX, your AA battery life is an incredible 5 months!

FLEX TECHNOLOGY
Let’s get really technical for a moment so you can understand, from the inside, just how this new FLEX protcol works and betters your paging life. “FLEX” is simply the name of the paging protocol that PageNet and your Advisor Gold FLX use to communicate with each other in order to bring you text messages.

Think of FLEX as a sort of television broadcast — the way your local TV station uses invisible signals to send you news on your TV set is the same way PageNet broadcasts (via FLEX) messages to your pager.

The speed of transmission between the PageNet network and your pager is measured in “Bits Per Second (“bps” for short — your modem uses the same sort of speed measured in bps) and that FLEX paging speed can be dynamically set to ensure safe delivery of pages. The FLEX system of messaging can change, at PageNet’s will, between speeds of 1600bps, or 3200bps or 6400bps. Most PageNet FLEX cities are presently running at 3200bps.

The biggest threat to robust paging data transmission is — believe it or not — falling leaves! Those pesky, dying, fliers are excellent “shields” that can mess up the data stream from PageNet to your pager. Imagine a flurry of leaves swirling and falling on an Autumn afternoon and you’re seeing a fluttering iron curtain between PageNet and your Advisor Gold!

Here’s where the beauty of FLEX comes into play on those “leafy” days: PageNet can slow down the FLEX speed of its pages to 1600bps (in only “Leafy” cities) in order to beef up the vitality of the network data stream and better help ensure delivery of your messages. Pretty neat, eh? Consider the dynamism of Morotola FLEX a high-tech windbreaker for your pages.

You may be used to the old POCSAG paging protocol that runs at lower bps rates. When POCSAG tries to run at 2400bps, character loss can be significant. FLEX is more robust at transmitting large data fields at faster speeds without losing data integrity.

In addition to faster transmission speeds, FLEX has superior fade protection and transmits pages more reliably than existing protocols, with twice the error correction of other protocols. FLEX has 12 times the error protection of POCSAG 1200. In fading environments, such as building interiors and moving cars, FLEX outperforms POCSAG 1200 in 80-character alphanumeric message tests by a factor of fifteen.

Complex pages such as lengthy alphanumeric messages, e-mail messages and data files are transmitted more reliably with FLEX than any other competing paging protocol. FLEX is the most cost-effective protocol available today, delivering as much as five times the throughput of a POCSAG 1200 system with only about twice the number of transmitters.

FLEX supports more than one billion addresses and that enables PageNet to add more customers to its network without adversely affecting the quality of care it presently provides its current customer base. POCSAG has a limit of two million addresses.

Now let’s count the ways PageNet lets you stay in charge of keeping in touch.

INTERNET PAGING
PageNet allows the people who need to get in touch with you to send a text message directly from the PageNet website!

(Note: You can’t send me a message by clicking on the SEND PAGE button in the above screenshot in this article, but you could if you were on the PageNet website and had my PIN code.)

Internet Paging is a quick and simple way for people to get text information to you because what they type is what you get. Paging you through the internet is also free for you and free for them.

PERSONAL TOLL FREE NUMBER
With a PageNet personal Toll Free Number, you can have a really superb Voice Mail system tethered to your pager. The greeting you create on your Toll Free line is the key to generating just what sort of information you need from your callers.

If you create a Voice Mail greeting that sounds something like this — “Thanks for calling. You have 3 choices. You can leave a message now. Or you can punch in your phone number via a touch tone phone. Or you can hang up and call my Dispatch Operator at 1-800-6-PAGE-ME and dictate a detailed text message” — you’ll help your caller know their contact options. You can also modify your greeting to only include the actions you want your callers to perform to contact you.

If your callers only leave a Voice Mail message, the PageNet Voice Mail system will send you a numeric page indicating that you have Voice Mail waiting. If your callers punch in their phone number, you’ll be numerically paged with the number your caller entered and the system will not record a Voice Mail message.

Having a PageNet Personal Toll Free Voice Mail number means no cost to you for the calls you make to retrieve your Voice Mail messages or for those who call you, but adding this service will run you around $10 dollars a month as a base fee with usage added on later.

OPERATOR DISPATCH
Dispatch Operator paging is a pretty neat feature if you want to give your callers the ultimate in “lead-me-by-the-hand” text message delivery. Your callers will dial 1-800-6-PAGE-ME and a live dispatch operator will answer the phone and ask your caller for your name or pager ID.

Your caller will give the operator their message for you. The operator will then read back your caller’s message to guarantee the message is accurate. Once the message has been verified by your caller, the Dispatch Operator will send it to you as an alphanumeric page. Your callers can leave a long and detailed message if they wish; the dispatch operator will break it up into multiple pages if necessary.

The biggest tip to good dispatch message management is to direct your callers in advance to leave detailed messages. A dispatch operator message of “Call wife” does you no good and is a waste of the dispatcher’s time and your money because a simple, cheaper, numeric page gives you the same result because you have to find a phone to call the wife back to find out what she wants.

If, however, you can train your callers to be extremely specific in the message they leave with the dispatcher — “Call wife about Chapter 2 of your book outline. The publisher loves it but needs two more sentences by 5 pm today and will give you a $2 million bonus if you do it” — you’ll know precisely what your caller wants and if you need to call back immediately or not.

With Dispatch Service, you can call the dispatch operator yourself and have the text messages sent to your pager read back to you. You just call in, give the dispatch operator your special dispatch security code, and they’ll be able to unlock all messages sent to you via dispatch and read them back.

Operator Dispatch is a good method of message management to use if you travel in and out of pager range and you want to ensure you don’t miss any dispatch operator messages… no matter what. Since the call to dispatch is free for you (and your callers), it doesn’t cost you anything to periodically check your messages. Operator Dispatch will cost you around $10 a month extra depending upon your service area and usage.

Some power users have their home or business calls forwarded on to their PageNet Toll Free Voice Mail or to the Toll Free Dispatch Operator service. This allows instant notification from your caller while you’re out or unavailable and forwarding calls to a Toll Free number doesn’t cost you a cent.

NUMERIC PAGING
You can also have your callers dial into PageNet’s numeric paging system. They’ll call a Toll Free number, enter your pager ID and then punch in their area code and phone number via a touch tone phone. This numeric capability is included in your base service charge.

DIAL-IN PAGING
PageNet provides free software you can install on your personal computer so people can use their modem to dial into the PageNet network and send you a text message. You can also use a third party paging program like InfoRad’s excellent AlphaPage software. There is no extra charge for this feature.

COMPUSERVE
If you have a CompuServe account, you can take advantage of the “NEWMAIL” system now in place and closely bind your PageNet alphanumeric pager to your CompuServe email account. You can get all of your CompuServe e-mail forwarded on to your PageNet alpha pager. You can get CIS to send you Weather alerts based upon your Zip Code. You can have CIS page you with News, Sports Scores and Stock quotes in real time!

You can also have people send email to your PageNet Motorola Advisor Gold FLX and that email will arrive on your pager and not in your CIS Inbox! The addressing is a bit unique. On CIS proper, the address looks like “mobile:XXXXXX.XXX” (the “X”s mark your CIS User ID and YES that’s a period and not a comma in the address). If people are sending email to your pager from the Internet, the address changes to this format: “XXXXXX.XXX@mobile.compuserve.com”. (Please note that both addresses are used without the quotes.)

CIS charges you a one time $5 setup fee when you register your nationwide PageNet pager for these SMART MAIL features. GO PAGER on CIS to register your pager. You’ll be asked to type in some particlar technical information (online help is excellent, so don’t sweat the setup) and then the CompuServe system will page you “within 48 hours” with a confirmation number that your pager was activated properly on the CIS system.

My confirmation page arrived in less than 2 minutes after I sent in my completed electronic pager registration. You’ll then log back on to CIS and set up any features you’re interested in attaching to your pager. The cost of this extended service depends upon which features you employ, so sure to read all the fine print.

FUTURE FEATURES
PageNet is constantly adding value and new features to its paging service. Keep an eye on this article since I’ll be updating it as PageNet’s services grow and improve. Having an alphanumeric pager is an invaluable part of my personal and business lives and I can’t imagine staying in touch without one.

Uninformed experiences can be a cruel teacher, and it’s important for you to remember that your pager is only as good as the paging network sending you data — and I can tell you from extended personal experience — that no one around can beat PageNet for reliability, pricing and value of service. For more information, call PageNet directly at 1-800-PAGENET.

GO INSIDE EXCLUSIVE
Be sure to read the GO INSIDE exclusive preview of PagNet’s new VoiceNow messaging service coming soon to a town near you… but you can read about it here now… on the inside.