Sprint Expands Enterprise Services, Pocket PC Devices

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As Wi-Fi and 802.11 wireless networking grows in popularity among enterprise networks, Sprint PCS jumped into the market Monday with new 3G high-speed data services for business customers and unveiled new enterprise-focused devices running Microsoft's Windows Pocket PC operating system for smart phones.

During the CTIA Wireless trade show in New Orleans, the number four wireless carrier unveiled PCS Telemetry, a service that allows machine-to-machine data transfer over its 3G packet-capable network. The services are designed to help business users gather and distribute information across a range of applications, Sprint said, including fleet management, wireless point of sale transactions, and utility service applications.

The machine-to-machine services are being targeted in select vertical markets, and are geared for customers looking for more bandwidth as they upgrade their applications for wireless delivery.

Sprint is using the wireless trade show to tout the speed on its CDMA 3G network while pitching new PCS Telemetry Services to enterprise customers that use CDPD (Cellular Digital Packet Data, a data transmission technology developed for use on cellular phone frequencies) . CDPD transmits data on cellular phone frequencies in the 800- to 900-MHz range at rates of up to 19.2 Kbps (kilobits per second)

By contrast, Sprint's U.S. 3G network can support data transit at 50 to 70 Kbps, with peak speeds of 144 Kbps. The higher speeds are where Sprint is looking for a sweet spot with enterprise customers whose CDPD networks don't support faster data transit speeds.

In related news, Sprint and Microsoft also took the tech industry's integration of cell phones and PDAs another leap forward Monday with two new PCS phones capable of launching Microsoft Office attachments, sending pictures, checking e-mail -- and running on the Windows Pocket PC operating system.

Sprint already offers Windows-powered devices via Toshiba's 2032 phone series. But in today's flurry of announcements at the CTIA Wireless trade show in New Orleans, Sprint and Microsoft announced two more devices that further combine the functions of PDAs, laptops and cell phones, aimed at an enterprise user.

Sprint PCS said it would offer two new PCS Phones based on the CDMA wireless networking standard, running on Microsoft Pocket PC software, during the second quarter of this year. The new devices will be offered as Samsung's SPH-i700 and Hitachi's G1000 series.

The companies said the products are designed for individuals and mobile professionals who want a single multipurpose wireless device to make calls, access information, snap photos and send them. It's also a chance for Sprint to show off the higher data speeds capable with its cellular network.

The PCS Phone by Samsung SPH-i700, for example, is designed for business users to have the latest cell phone features and are able to access Microsoft applications such as Word and Excel.

The features in the i700 series include a speakerphone to allow users to conduct hands-free conference calls and launch applications from their phones. The phone's built-in digital camera allows VGA quality 640 x 480 images, continuous capture, lighting adjustment, voice memo and text attachments with pictures that can be sent via e-mail or infrared, the companies said.

Hitachi's G1000 series, meanwhile, is Hitachi's first Windows Powered device and the first Pocket PC phone to feature an integrated camera, keyboard and phone all in one. It comes with a built-in QWERTY keyboard that lets the user input text, place and receive phone calls, and browse the Web at speeds averaging 50 to 70 Kbps (kilobits per second), with peak speeds of 144 Kbps. The new device also incorporates an integrated rotating digital VGA quality camera with the ability to shoot and share pictures.

Both devices will support standard Windows-based applications such as Excel, the Outlook messaging and collaboration e-mail client, Pocket Word, Pocket Internet, Explorer, Windows Media Player, Microsoft ActiveSync technology, Inbox and MSN Messenger.

As part of its positioning with the enterprise and corporate markets, both PCS Phones running the Pocket PC software will let customers download PCS Business Connection Personal Edition during installation, which enables wireless access to company e-mail via data-ready PCS Phones or laptops and handhelds connected to the Internet.

Customers will be able to read and respond to personal and company email, open attachments, access business applications, browse the Web in full color, shoot and share pictures, and make phone calls anywhere on the enhanced Sprint Nationwide PCS Network -- all with the convenience of a single mobile device, the companies said.

At the same time, Sprint also unveiled new features for its consumer-focused devices such as the PCS Phone by Sanyo 8100, which now supports adding voice messages with digital pictures sent over the devices.

The company said the phone can record comments, even ambient sounds, which can be uploaded to a photo account on the Sprint Pictures web site and sent to other PCS Vision phones or computers.

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