TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Re: Using Cell Phone as Pager

Re: Using Cell Phone as Pager

Isaiah Beard (
Sat, 15 Jan 2005 13:27:12 -0500

TELECOM Digest Editor noted in response to Isaiah Beard:

> [TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: I am curious about something on this. I
> have been in many hospitals and medical centers where they ask you to
> turn off your cell phone while there. They say it has to do with radio
> telemetry equipment on the premises. Yet, the doctors and all the
> staff members have pagers, and they don't turn those off. You'd think
> radio signals from either type of device would be a problem. PAT]

Well, most of the pagers you see doctors using are of the one-way
variety; they receive only and do not transmit. The the proximity of
a transmitter, theoretically, is what causes problems.

That said, I HAVE seen fr myself that some cell phones do put out
enough spurious RF to cause interference, though I've never seen it be
immediately harmful (then again, I've never experimented with taht
stuff in a hospital). Nextel handhelds are the worst for this; GSM
phones significantly less so, and CDMA often barely registers if at

Johnnie Leung wrote:

> Rick Merrill wrote:

>> Ahem, pagers are receive only; cell phones Always Transmit

> Ahem.

> I don't know about the pagers nowadays, but the one that I last used
> (7+ years ago, from SkyTel) was two-way. The network knew that you
> were out of range, and if a transmitted page was received.

Ahem. (Since we all seem to be having throat problems ...)

While the 2-way Blackberry and Motorola ReFlex networks are a new
development, the old POCSAG and FLEX one-way networks are still alive
and well, and you'll find that the wide majority of doctors are using
those units.

Additionally, ReFlex and Blackberry units tend to send out packetized
data as quick bursts; a cell phone during a voice call will send out
either steady, continuous RF in the case of Analog and CDMA (which in
practice isn't always so bad, but can be a nuisance), or a long series
of rapid, high-speed on-off packetized bursts in the case of TDMA
(which is very, very bad to equipment that is susceptible to

So the fool of a doctor who gets a two-way pager is still at risk of
causing problems with the equipment, but not nearly as much as if s/he
were using a cell phone. wrote:

> Rick Merrill wrote:

>> Ahem, pagers are receive only; cell phones Always Transmit, even if you
>> are not placing a call. The energy dissipated is always strongest near
>> a transmitter. There is very little energy radiated near a receiver.

> Ahem, pagers generate an intermediate frequency.

*cough* (what is it with everyone's throat these days?)

Pagers can generate an intermediate frequency, but the strength of the
signal is still nowhere near the deliberate RF that is sent out by a

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