Sprint line aimed at wireless

Thursday, August 24th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

Sprint unveiled a series of products and services Wednesday that will help corporations disseminate e-mail and other information to mobile workforces through cell phones that increasingly look and feel like hand-held computers.

The service, Wireless Web for Business, will provide speeds approaching Internet connections at 56 kilobits per second, the speed at which many residential users connect to the Net.

Users will be able to access the Internet in three ways: on the phone, using a wireless modem that slides into a laptop or by connecting their handsets to their computer with a cord.

The service will support competing software from IBM, Microsoft, Siebel and other vendors.

Companies will be able to customize phones and laptops to display information as it appears on employees' computers at work.

"This is really designed for businesses that already have laptops deployed to their road warriors or their sales forces," said Jay Highley, vice president of Sprint's business customer unit.

Mark Lowenstein, executive vice president for the Yankee Group's wireless practice, said Sprint's service breaks an important barrier that has limited laptops' role.

"If they are successful with this there is going to be a real race to take wireless on to higher speeds," he said. "Everyone realizes laptops are limited with current speeds. This makes the laptop an important access mechanism."

The Web service will cost $40 in addition to a minimum $49.95 for voice service per handset or modem.

The cost of handsets and modems vary with model.

Sprint will start offering the service Sept. 1.

Sprint is the first service provider offering wireless Internet speeds that meet dial-up access, Mr. Lowenstein said. The service will attract corporate customers because of its abilities, including accessing companies' in-house Intranets.

"This is not just about wireless Internet, but also about the wireless Intranet," Mr. Lowenstein said. "More and more information and databases people need access to are on the intranet."

Mr. Highley said corporations will be able to customize and limit what workers have access to via the service.