Sprint offers businesses wireless Web kits

You're sitting in a heavyweight client meeting when you realize that you're missing some of the slides you need for your presentation. Your hands start to shake as you tap the keys of your laptop, grinning maniacally as you search for the missing slides without letting the client know something is amiss.

This is the kind of situation Sprint Corp. had in mind when it announced Wednesday that it is offering Wireless Web for Business starter kits to its corporate clients.

If you were equipped with a kit, the rest of the scenario might go like this: After ten minutes of frantic searching, you excuse yourself and step into the hallway with your Sprint PCS Internet-enabled phone which is installed with Wireless Knowledge Inc. software that allows you to access your corporate e-mail. You call your co-worker Mary, who is fiddling with a stuck printer paper tray at work, on her replica cell phone and ask her to turn on your desktop PC and e-mail the report to your laptop which is installed with a wireless modem. You walk back into the conference room and make small talk until you get a nonintrusive e-mail from Mary over your cell phone saying that the slides you need are sitting in your laptop inbox. Phew.

To give traveling professionals the technology to make this type of recovery scenario happen, Sprint has put together two separate kits: an Application Starter Kit, which centers around Internet-enabled cell phones with Wireless Knowledge software that allows you to breach your corporate firewall and access your e-mail account, and a Modem Starter Kit, which offers wireless laptop connectivity. Both kits are equipped for 10 employees and are available for a three-month trial period for a flat fee. After this period, clients can chose whether they want to discontinue the service or continue with the kits for a monthly fee.

The Application Starter Kit, comprising 10 Sprint PCS phones (customers can choose from the TP3000 or TP2200 models), 10 seats of software applications for Wireless Knowledge's Workstyle sofware, which allows handheld users to access Microsoft Exchange. In addition, the kit offers 10 Sprint Total Digital Connection (TDC) rate plans for three months, goes for US$3,200.

The Modem Starter Kit contains 10 Sprint PCS Wireless Web Modem cards manufactured by Sierra Wireless Inc., which fit into a standard Type II laptop slot running Microsoft Windows. These modems run at a speed comparable to a 56k-bps landline dial-up connection, come with 10 TDC three-month rate plans and are priced at $2,500.

The three-month trial offer will be available to Sprint corporate clients until Sept.1, 2001, with a limit of up to five kits per customer. After that, the kits can only be contracted for a monthly fee. Whether or not a company continues with the plan, the handsets and modems are theirs to keep and can be reactivated if they decide to continue the service at a later date. Customers can also chose to expand upon the service after the trail period, but the units must be purchased in increments of 10.

Sprint Spokeswoman Suzanne Lammers said that the company has been getting positive feedback from customers who have already tested out the kits.

"They really like the fact that everything they need is in one package, and the installation is seamless," said Lammers.

According to Lammers, increased e-mail access is an important selling point for customers.

"E-mail is the foundation for these companies' communications," Lammers said.

And in terms of security concerns, the Wireless Knowledge software has Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) protocol encryption, Lammers added.

The company says it will be testing the waters with these two kits and may offer customers more one-stop services in the future.

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