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O2 drops pager service

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O2 is to stop offering pager services from the end of the year. The mobile operator cites falling demand for services and easy alternatives such as text messages and Blackberry devices for its decision.

Subscribers were sent notices by letter on Monday (28 June). They have until 31 December to choose a different messaging service; or O2 is offering to pass details to PageOne Communications, which will continue to run pager services. Customers will have to change pager numbers if they change providers.

A spokesman said: "There are 51,000 pagers still in active use that's why we've given people a long notice period to allow them to look at alternatives."

Once they've cancelled the service, customers must return the pagers, which are all rented. O2 says that all paging equipment will be recovered and disposed of in an environmentally-friendly manner.

Vodafone also runs paging services in the UK. A spokeswoman said the network had no plans to pull out.

The first pager systems were introduced in the UK in the 1950s. These worked over a limited area - one of the first uses was a "doctor alert" system at St Thomas's Hospital in London. Wide area pagers arrived in London in 1977. Arguably, they were the first mobile communication devices.

More on pager history here. ®

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