NEW YORK (06/27/2000) - BellSouth Corp. will take its packet switch Wireless Data Network, known mainly as an interactive paging technology, and expand its capabilities to target a much larger corporate audience, providing access to Internet applications via pagers and handhelds.
The company will partner with WAP-enabled (Wireless Application Protocol) microbrowser supplier Neomar Inc., based in San Francisco, to offer users of the RIM (Research In Motion Ltd.) pagers and newer RIM 950 handhelds access to selected Web-based sites as well as custom enterprise-level applications by basically giving pager users access to any WAP Internet application. BellSouth, in Atlanta, made its announcement at the PC Expo conference here Tuesday.
Currently estimates for consumer-oriented WAP sites are at about 10,000 to 20,000 sites. More importantly, corporate developers will be able to give their pager users access to WAP-enabled applications such as sales force automation and customer relationship without need to rewrite applications for yet another protocol.
The RIM pagers have proved popular with many large corporations because packet switching rather than the CDMA and TDMA technologies allow users to be continuously connected to their network with charges only accruing when packets of data are sent rather then paying for expensive connection charges.
"The Neomar, BellSouth alliance will give users who are already using WML (Wireless Markup Language) on devices access to those applications on pagers and handhelds using the BellSouth data network," said Janet Boudris, senior vice president, Strategic Marketing, for BellSouth Wireless Data in Woodbridge, New Jersey.
However, according to Tim Scannell, research analyst at Mobile Insights, in Quincy, Massachusetts, too many users are locked into the "tiny device syndrome" and are asking these devices to do too much.
"Users are really pushing the envelope when they are asking to access mainframe information over a pager," said Scannell.
BellSouth also announced that it will upgrade its service offering over its network to include more complete access to Microsoft Corp.'s Exchange Server-based applications such as calendars and contacts, and to give users pager-to-pager communications links for workgroup applications.