From the October, 1998 PC ALAMODE Magazine:
Getting e-mail on your pager
 
by Bill Gonzalez

One of the most useful technologies to emerge from the Internet is email-to-pager messaging. Email-to-pager messaging enables a person who has a capable pager (or mobile phone) to receive email messages on location. The ultra mobile businessperson can now receive important email immediately. Some pagers or mobile phones even allow you to respond immediately as well.

 In order make use of this technology, you must be equipped with a pager or mobile phone that is capable of receiving alphanumeric pages or messages. Alphanumeric messages are comprised of both numbers and digits. Most pagers in the mid to high price range have this capability as well as do most digital phones on the market today. This service is usually an option so you may have to speak to your communications representative to enable this feature on your pager or phone.

 When this feature is enabled, you will be given an email address that is unique to your pager or phone. Usually this email address is comprised of your area code, pager phone number, your pager pin -- and an Internet domain name of an email-to-pager server. For example, if PageNet provides your pager service the email address for your pager will be something like 2148357243.8333033@pagenet.net. Anyone using a standard email client like Eudora, Microsoft Outlook or Pegasus can send you an email by sending it to the email address of your pager. 

In general terms, when someone sends an email message addressed to your pager, the email gets routed via the Internet to an email-to-pager server owned by the company providing you this service. The e-mail-to-pager server then calls your pager and transmits the e-mail message to your pager. This is similar to a person sending you a message by calling your pager number directly.

 However wonderful this capability may seem, you must be careful with its use. A common suggestion is to use another e-mail address, which is configured to send you only specific messages, to act as a buffer or filter so that you don't receive all of your e-mail messages on your pager. You can understand this concern if you generally receive ten or more e-mails a day. You would want to set up your e-mail account to forward any messages to your pager that contain specific keywords like "Urgent" or "Emergency" in the subject field or in the text of the message. You might also forward message from a particular person like "Bill Gates". Another suggestion is to minimize the number of people you give your pager e-mail address to. You don't want to end up with your pager's e-mail address showing up on a junk mail list. All pagers have a set amount of messages they can store and your pager can easily fill with unnecessary e-mail making the important messages hard to find.

 Some of the people using this technology are businesspersons who frequently use e-mail to communicate with clients and vendors, but who are not always sitting in front of their desk constantly checking their e-mail. This same type of person might carry a laptop, but may be changing location so frequently, that it would be inconvenient to constantly power up, connect to the Internet, read their e-mail, power down and then move on. E-mail-to-pager technology would prove very useful as a sort of "spot check" of a person's e-mail. 

For example, I use an e-mail address called emergency@web-hed.com that actually forwards any messages sent to that address to my mobile phone and my network administrator's mobile phone. Because our job sometimes requires us to leave the office to tend to a network problem, we like to receive any urgent e-mail messages immediately. We use this address instead of giving people the e-mail address of our mobile phones to avoid e-mail abuse, like junk mail. Also, if we ever switch phones or our phone numbers change, we don't have to inform any of our clients. They simply continue to send technical concerns to emergency@web-hed.com. When I am expecting a message from an important client I will set up my e-mail account to forward their message to my pager. I immediately call my client and let them know their web page is done, or something along those lines. 

Another useful use of this technology is maintenance of our systems. We have a monitoring program that monitors the status of our web servers and sends an e-mail message to my mobile phone when something is amiss.

 Another emerging feature in the e-mail-to-pager arena is the ability to respond immediately to a message you receive on your pager with a choice of canned or pre-recorded messages. Some example responses are "Got your message. Will reply soon" or "Call me at the office". Some pagers even allow you to respond with a typewritten message.

 One final note to remember. The Internet is a global network and may experience outages and delays. You should inform your senders that time-critical messages should be sent by a more reliable means, like a phone call.

 E-mail-to-pager messaging is very useful to a person who is on the go and doesn't always carry a laptop computer with a live Internet connection. It allows the highly mobile businessperson to remain in contact at all times. If you feel you might find this technology useful, contact a representative at a local pager or mobile phone company. They should be able to answer all of your questions.

 Bill Gonzalez is the founder of Web-Hed technologies.