Build Your Own Microsoft Teams Pager: 4G LTE, Compact, Rugged, Waterproof, Loud Alerting, Paging Beeper

NOTE: This device is not in any way approved by Microsoft or the mobile services mentioned.

The Requirement

Sometimes there is a need for a device who's sole job is to make sure a user gets an alert at all times. (including waking an on-duty individual during the night if necessary) This means as a minimum requirement this solution needs an loud audio alert that is NEVER inadvertently turned off and there are NO unintentional alerts.

The Challenge

For an organization that lives in Microsoft Teams, the solution seems obvious: Use Microsoft Teams Urgent Chat. The inability to assign a specific alert sound for very specific a Chat message (coming from a certain Contact, containing specific content, or only Urgent Messages, etc.) makes this tricky, if not impossible, to configure on a users primary MS Teams phone to achieve our goal of never inadvertently alerting.

NOTE: There seems like there should be some way to achieve this with some combination of DND, Notification configuration or a separate Teams user signed into Teams Android with different combination of notification settings, but every byzantine trail of notification combinations I've tried does not seem to deliver a reliable version of our requirements. If you know of a way, please let me know.

The Solution Overview

An alternative way to achieve our requirements is to:

  • have a dedicated mobile device to provide alerting and be our "pager"
  • sign in with a Teams user not likely to get Chat messages from unexpected contacts. (Something like
  • configure a loud notification sound for Teams Chat messages
  • Turn all other notifications on the device off (not just Teams, but ALL other notifications)
  • Now use MS Teams to Chat or Urgent Chat to this user to achieve the alert
    • Urgent Chat will re-alert every 2 minutes for 20 minutes or until alert is acknowledged.

Detailed Steps

What is a good device to be our Microsoft Teams "Pager"? The Unihertz Atom (available here) is a pretty interesting form factor and is ideal for the following reasons:

  • 4G LTE (national & international service)
  • Very Small (pager sized device at 2.45" display)
  • Rugged: Tough/Waterproof (IP68)
    • Comparable to emergency services pager build quality
  • Loud alert/ringer & vibrate
  • Android 9
  • Runs Microsoft Teams (with capacity to spare)
  • a belt clip accessory available separately 
The Unihertz Atom device shown below.

Detailed Steps to Configure Unihertz Atom Android Device & Teams

  1. Setup the Unihertz Atom (Android device)
    1. Settings > Duraspeed > Teams > "Allow apps to turn in background" = On
    2. Settings > Intelligent Assistance > App Blocker > Teams > [no restrictions]
    3. Settings > Sounds > Phone Ringtone = none (or as desired)
    4. Settings > Sounds > Default notification sound = none
    5. Settings > Sounds > Advanced > Dial pad, screen locking, charging, touch = off
  2. Get Data Service working
    1. Activate AT&T (or other 4G LTE service) with an authorized 4G phone to enabled 4G/LTE then move to this phone.
    2. Some services (in USA) are as low as $10 to $20 a month. See Redpocket.
  3. Setup Microsoft Teams
    1. Sign into Google Play Store and install Microsoft Teams
    2. sign into MS Teams with "pager" user
    3. Send "Pager-Alert-Long" to this MS Teams. "..." > Download.
    4. MS Teams > Notifications > General Activity > Uncheck everything but "Chats"
    5. MS Teams > Notifications > General Activity > Chats > Advanced > Sound > Add ringtone > Downloads (or location of ringer) > Pager-Alert-Long > OK.
Now send a Chat message to this Teams user to provide an alert.

A Few Images of Device In Action

Amazingly Microsoft Teams renders nearly perfectly on the Atom's tiny 2.4" screen.

The Teams Settings & presence screen.

Alert toast. (NOTE: no, it does not look like the "glamour" image for this blog. No landscape mode for Teams either.) Using the Pager-Alert-Long.ogg file you can download above, a chat notification will beep for 40 seconds or until you swipe down on the Android home screen (& view current notifications). Note the swiping down will not clear the Teams Urgent Message and it will alert again in 2 minutes (for 20minutes) until you look at the Chat message in Teams.

All of chat functionality available including compose message, voice messages, Urgent messages.

Yes, you can reply. But your replies will be short typing on a 2.4" screen. (but its a lot better than the best purpose built 4G pagers.) You CAN use Teams voice messages.

Yes, you can use this devices as a PTT Walkie Talkie. (I haven't been able to map the PTT button on the Unihertz Atom--If you figure it out, let me know.) 

And yes, Teams Apps work too. 

Now you have a Microsoft Teams pager (that competes, and in many ways surpasses, industry purpose built devices like TPL Birdy 4G pager) with the following features:

  • Alphanumeric
  • Receive/Send
  • Text Messages, Teams Voice Message responses
  • Auto Receipt/Acknowledgement
  • Urgent alerts keep alerting every 2 minutes for 20 minutes
  • Send Alerts/Message with familiar Microsoft Teams user interface
  • Send Alerts/Messages from Landis Attendant Console for MS Teams
  • Manager can see Receipts/Acknowledgement in MS Teams user interface
  • Manage device with Microsoft 365
  • Pager alert or set to any alert you wish
  • Unlimited historical messages
  • Ability to see if pager is online via presence indicator
  • Teams Apps
  • 2.45" touch color display 
  • Additional services: PTT/2way radio of WIFI/4G, SMS, Share location, etc.
  • Finger print/Face detection security

Ways to Send a chat/alert to the "pager"

There are several ways to send the chat/alert to the pager:
  • Microsoft Teams user interface
  • Microsoft Power automate or MS Graph API (Not Urgent Chat)
  • Landis Attendant Console for Microsoft Teams

First we'll look at Microsoft Teams Chat user interface.

Just select the pager user and (1) type the message. (2) Select how urgent this message is. 

(3) Send. (4) Then monitor that user the user gets the message. This will require that Pager Teams user have "Read Receipts" turned on.

You can also use Microsoft Power Automate to send a chat to a Microsoft Teams user. NOTE: At this time a flow cannot mark the message as "Urgent".

Also, last but not least, a shameless plug: The Landis Attendant Console for Microsoft Teams allows sending alerts to this type of solution with 1-click "Chat Call Back Reminder". When a caller requests a call back, just find the Pager contact and click "Chat Call Back Reminder" & send. Presto! ;-) 

Some ways this solution could be improved:
  • Use the PTT/definable button to toggle between vibrate+audio alert & vibrate only
  • Alert when device has no data service

If you can improve on this idea, please comment.

40 second Pager Beep Alert for Android

How Microsoft Teams Meeting Push-to-Talk Works aka "Keyboard Shortcut to Unmute" and Gotchas

Yay,  Teams Meeting CTRL+Spacebar to unmute is GA. See Roadmap.

What Feature are we talking about?

First let's get straight that there are 2 completely different Microsoft Teams features being called Push-to-Talk (and I see a lot of news articles conflating them):

  1. The Teams Walkie Talkie App: Provide 2-way radio functionality in Teams. This is like having one of those good old, black, Motorola 2 way radios inside your Android phone and having Teams as Channels. (super cool, but not what we are talking about today.)
  2. Teams Meeting press CTRL+SPACEBAR feature: to temporarily unmute during a meeting

This article is talking about number 2.

Now How It Works

  1. The setting is in Settings > Privacy > Keyboard Short Cut to Unmute. (This is enabled by default)
  2. Get in a Teams meeting (or see below, any call) and mute yourself.
  3. Now pressing CTRL+Spacebar will temporarily unmute yourself while pressed.

Why People Want This (and Not Mute/Unmute)

Some people work in noisy environments. Many meetings are spent listening with only 1 10 second question or answer in the whole meeting. Can we have a very efficient way to temporarily allow themselves to speak? This is the reason for "Keyboard Shortcut to Unmute" aka Meeting PTT (push to talk). And Microsoft ain't beyond saying "If our competition is doing it, we had better be too!"

You could think of it as Mute/Unmute being oriented towards those spending a lot of time both speaking and not. PTT is for those meetings when you only talk for short periods.

Notes & Gotchas:

  • I notice that PTT/ctrl+spacebar works in regular telephone calls as well as meetings.
  • If you are not muted, ctrl+spacebar has no effect.
  • Ctrl + Spacebar only works with the Microsoft Teams app has the focus.
  • ctrl+shift+M does not work when ctrl+spacebar (meeting PTT) is enabled.
  • Be careful onscreen buttons are not selected when you hit ctrl+spacebar as spacebar "presses" a selected button. (for example: if "Video" or "Share" has the selection, ctrl+spacebar will press that action.)

How Stuff Looks

New Setting:

What is shown when you are unmuted: