Wireless Communication: Roaming Power

Match yourself to a wireless communications solution.

September 1, 1999

With today’s options in mobile communications, there’s no reason you should ever be beyond reach of your office or clients.

Coverage for basic cell phone and pager service is available just about anywhere in the United States. If you want to take advantage of the latest advances in mobile communications, though, your options may be narrower.

Before you consider buying that pager or mobile phone and the service package that empowers each, assess your work style and what you require in a communications link. Do it now, or you may end up with too much or too little--and a service contract that’s costly to revise.

  • Mobile phone, pager, or both? For Joseph Harker, a salesperson with the Mary Harker Five Star Team--Keller Williams in Dallas, a two-way pager is a sweet deal. “I can respond to messages with my pager, and my clients don’t even know. So they don’t feel I’m spending their time taking calls from someone else.” His pager sports a tiny keypad on which he discreetly taps out a return message.
  • Where do you roam? Identify the neighborhoods, parts of town, and surrounding areas where your practice takes you. That’ll identify the service providers that can support your needs.
  • What’s available? Your choice in pagers and cell phone models is dictated by what service providers support--digital, cellular, two-way paging--in the area you need coverage. Here’s the service spectrum:

    • Pagers: Basic pagers beep or vibrate when someone calls, and flash a number. Alphanumeric pagers provide a screen for written messages. Any service above basic paging carries an additional price.
    • Cell phones: Analog mobile phones, the original cell phone technology, relay your conversation on radio waves. Coverage is universal, but the technology is vulnerable to interrupted calls, eavesdropping, and stolen service. Digital phones offer greater security and more phone features, but they don’t yet offer the same coverage as analog cellular. To switch between analog and digital technologies depending on local availability, and combine basic spoken communications with text services, look into multiband, multimode phones.
    • The package: You can buy your phone outright and a service package separately from the provider; arrange a lease with the intent to purchase; or lease the phone for a contract period. Although you may pay more long term, a lease guarantees that you’ll never have to pay to replace your equipment if it goes down. Tip: It’s best to obtain the hardware and service as a package from a local provider. Ask about new flat-rate service packages or prepaid call allowances that operate like calling cards.
  • Read the fine print: The contract you sign for mobile service and phone or pager is a binding legal document. Know what services you’re entitled to for the monthly fee; how many calls or how much air time is included; charges for additional services such as text messaging; roaming charges; the duration of the contract; and your obligations should you want to end the contract.

Bottom line: You’ll find a service-hardware package suited for you, but you’ll log some time making sure it’s the best deal.

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