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Japan is Officially Killing the Pager

It’s almost unbelievable that this didn’t happen sooner.

Remember the good old days when you could leave the house and nobody could hassle you? That is, unless, you were in an important field like emergency medical, where tracking you down could mean the difference between life or death – in which case you carried a pager.

Looking back at the tech, it’s almost laughable in its simplicity, yet pagers had a very important role in communication. And let’s be real: No one has ever saved a life with cat gifs… so, your iPhone isn’t that hot, ok?

Bad news for pager users in the far east, as the Japan Times has reported that the country’s last remaining pager service, Tokyo Telemessage Inc., will stop supporting the pagers for its last 1,500 customers late next year.

Gizmodo says that some of the last few users are workers in hospital settings that couldn’t tolerate the electromagnetic waves of a cell phone, or in search in rescue, where service gaps could mean disaster. Yet others, says CNN, are older Japanese citizens that are simply reluctant to abandon the technology they’ve become accustomed to. Is this the right time to mention that Japan’s head of cybersecurity was recently mocked for acknowledging he’s never used a computer?

Luckily for those who legitimately need a pager-like device, Tokyo Telemessage Inc. – who last produced a pager device 20 years ago – says it will be launching a new service on the same radio frequencies necessary for applications like disaster response.

Believe it or not, there are places where the pager is even less of a dinosaur – like the US. A 2013 report by Fortune said pagers “continue to thrive” in the medical industry, where many doctors are said to carry one as a supplement to their cell phones. One reason is that hospitals can’t or won’t equip their buildings with the expensive technology necessary to ensure cellular access in every cavernous corner.

Unfortuntately, the report adds that “pagers and other outdated communications systems cost hospitals $8.3 billion annually in lost productivity.”
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