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Hold the Phone! Pagers Go Two-Way

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CHAPEL HILL — Pagers and cell phones have become a necessary tool for many of us. But for some, neither a pager nor cell phone answers a need that's being fulfilled by a Chapel Hill company.

ReadyCom is on the leading edge of a new service that offers mobile voice mail. The service, called "Responder," is not meant to replace either cell phones or regular pagers, but offers an inexpensive way to communicate wirelessly by voice.

Here's how it works: voice messages travel wirelessly on area cellular systems and are stored on a server until they are pushed back onto the network and to a regular phone or another Responder unit.

Responder is non real-time, but ReadyCom's CEO, Brian Kinahan, says it's a big advance over pagers which only alert you to get to a phone.

"What the Responder does is not only taps you on the shoulder, but it gives you the full information that you are needing to hear, and then on top of that, it is two-way."

With the push of a button, Responder becomes a real-time cell phone connecting to 911 or emergency road service.

Kinahan says its real value is voice mail in your pocket.

"You're not calling in to your voice mail from time to time to pick up the message. You're having it sent to you."

Tests have been underway for a year. After introduction in the Triangle, Kinahan says Responder will be offered to cellular companies around the country and the world.

"What we provide is a technology that enhances cellular networks so that they are able to offer this new level of service."

The hand-held Responder will sell for about $100. Monthly service is expected to cost between $15 and $24.

Responder does not replace pagers and cell phones, but it seems to be ideal for small groups of workers, families and others who want to stay in touch in a personal way.

ReadyCom is the first company in the country to offer this unique service and it will be available in the Triangle in a few weeks.

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Tom Lawrence, Reporter
Terry Cantrell, Photographer
Michelle Singer, Web Editor

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