Developments to Watch
TAKING A PAGER FROM ISRAEL'S ARSENAL
NEXUS TELECOMMUNICATION Systems Ltd. in Tel Aviv has invented a low-cost system for two-way paging based on Israeli military communications technology. A subscriber creates as many as 300 possible messages in advance and stores them in the paging-company's computer, assigning each a number. To respond to a page, the subscriber simply scrolls through a list of printed messages on the pager screen and transmits back the appropriate number--say, 124 for "I'll be there in 20 minutes." The paging-company computer translates the number and forwards the message by fax, E-mail, or by phone using a synthesized voice.
Having to choose from a list of predefined messages is limiting, but the offsetting advantages are huge. Nexus' NexNet messages are so short that the pagers need less than a watt of power to send them, and the low power lets the pagers transmit in a free, unlicensed portion of the U.S. airwaves. To cope with the electromagnetic "noise" in that crowded spectrum, Nexus uses a frequency-hopping method that was developed to be virtually immune to enemy jamming. American Paging Inc. in Minneapolis is co-developing the system for the U.S. market, while Samsung Electronics Co. will manufacture the two-way pagers.EDITED BY PETER COY