Simple Network Paging Protocol - Version 1(b)
RFC 1568

Document Type RFC - Informational (January 1994; No errata)
Obsoleted by RFC 1645
Last updated 2013-03-02
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Network Working Group                                           A. Gwinn
Request for Comments: 1568                 Southern Methodist University
Category: Informational                                     January 1994

             Simple Network Paging Protocol - Version 1(b)

Status of this Memo

   This memo provides information for the Internet community.  This memo
   does not specify an Internet standard of any kind.  Distribution of
   this memo is unlimited.

Abstract

   This RFC suggests a simple way for delivering both alphanumeric and
   numeric pages (one-way) to radio paging terminals.  Gateways
   supporting this protocol, as well as SMTP, have been in use for
   several months in one nationwide paging firm.  One other paging firm
   is in the process of adopting it.

   Earlier versions of this specification were reviewed by IESG members
   and the IETF's "822 Extensions" Working Group.  They preferred an
   alternate strategy, as discussed under "Relationship to Other IETF
   Work", below.

1. Introduction

   Beepers are as much a part of computer nerdom as X-terminals
   (perhaps, unfortunately, more).  The intent of Simple Network Paging
   Protocol (SNPP) is to provide a standard whereby pages can be
   delivered to individual paging terminals.  The most obvious benefit
   is the elimination of the need for modems to produce alphanumeric
   pages, and the added ease of delivery of pages to terminals in other
   cities or countries.  Additionally, automatic page delivery should be
   somewhat more simplified.

2. System Philosophy

   Radio paging is somewhat taken for granted, because of the wide
   availability and wide use of paging products.  However, the actual
   delivery of the page, and the process used (especially in wider area
   paging) is somewhat complicated.  When a user initiates a page, by
   dialing a number on a telephone, or entering an alphanumeric page
   through some input device, the page must ultimately be delivered to
   some paging terminal, somewhere.  In most cases, this delivery is
   made using TAP (Telocator Alphanumeric input Protocol, also known as
   IXO).  This protocol can be a somewhat convoluted, and complicated

Gwinn                                                           [Page 1]
RFC 1568                  SNPP - Version 1(b)               January 1994

   protocol using older style ASCII control characters and a non-
   standard checksumming routine to assist in validating the data.  One
   note: even though the TAP protocol allows for a password for sending
   simple pages, they are rarely used (especially in commercial
   markets), and therefore support for them has not been implemented in
   this version of the protocol.

   Even though TAP is widely used throughout the industry, there are
   plans on the table to move to a more flexible "standard" protocol
   (the proposal for which is actually more convoluted than most
   Internet RFC's).  However, acknowledging the complexity and
   flexibility of the current protocols (or the lack thereof), the final
   user function is quite simple: to deliver a page from point-of-origin
   to someone's beeper.  That is the simple, real-time function that
   this protocol attempts to address.  Validation of the paging
   information is left completely up to the TAP/IXO paging terminal,
   making an SNPP gateway a direct "shim" between a paging terminal and
   the Internet.

3. Why not just use Email and SMTP?

   Email, while quite reliable, is not always timely.  A good example of
   this is deferred messaging when a gateway is down. Suppose Mary Ghoti
   (fish@hugecompany.org) sends a message to Zaphod Beeblebrox's beeper
   (5551212@pager.pagingcompany.com). Hugecompany's gateway to the
   Internet is down causing Mary's message to be deferred.  Mary,
   however, is not notified of this delay because her message has not
   actually failed to reach its destination.  Three hours later, the
   link is restored, and (as soon as sendmail wakes up) the message is
   sent.  Obviously, if Mary's page concerned a meeting that was
   supposed to happen 2 hours ago, there will be some minor
   administrative details to work out between Mary and Zaphod!

   On the other hand, if Mary had used her SNPP client (or simply
   telnetted to the SNPP gateway), she would have immediately discovered
   the network problem.  She would have decided to invoke plan "B" and
   call Zaphod's pager on the telephone, ringing him that way.

   The obvious difference here is not page delivery, but the immediate
   notification of a problem that affects your message.  Standard email
   and SMTP, while quite reliable in most cases, cannot be positively
   guaranteed between all nodes at all times, making it less desirable
   for emergency or urgent paging.  The other consideration is the
   relative simplicity of the SNPP protocol for manual Telnet sessions
   versus someone trying to manually hack a mail message into a gateway.
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