Sprint Corp. kicked off its participation at Internet World Fall 2002 here on Tuesday by announcing that it is extending its hosting service, Business Connection Managed Edition (BCME), to include full mobile access to Microsoft Corp. Exchange Server.
In essence Sprint is adding a mobile gateway to its datacenter that currently hosts mail storage and databases behind its firewall.
The mobile gateway will give users access to their corporate e-mail, calendars, and contacts. However, a company contemplating using the Sprint hosted service for its mail servers would by necessity also need to subscribe to Sprint's 3G digital network which the carrier calls the PCS Vision network, officials said.
"For many enterprise-level companies that give their employees a cell phone anyway, subscribing to a single wireless network is not an issue. But for those companies that allow employees to use their own cell phones, they are looking for a more complete solution," said David Hayden, president of MobileWeek, a mobile consultancy based in Palo Alto, Calif.
Currently, Sprint hosts the mail server for such companies as Penton Media and eBay, according to Ken Kurz, senior practice principal for mobile computing services at Sprint in Overland Park, Kan.
Kurz also said that Sprint intends to leverage the networks ability to collect so-called presence information to add additional services for its customers. The carrier network can detect if a user is using the handset, has it on but not talking, or has turned it off.
At Internet World, Sprint also said that its IM service that can be deployed behind a corporate firewall as opposed to using a public network will now be available for devices using a Palm operating system.
Future versions of Enterprise IM will support audio messaging and group conferencing, according to officials.
As Sprint continues to roll out its wireless data services, MobileWeek's Hayden called 2002 the "year of the pilot."
"This year companies will be willing to test wireless services on their network and perhaps will be ready to roll them out in 2003," Hayden said.