AT&T Wireless was the first company to launch a one-rate calling plan for business travelers that included both long distance and roaming, back in 1998. Other companies had offered one-rate long distance plans in the past, but the roaming feature was key. "AT&T historically has been strong within the enterprise markets," said Philip Redman, an analyst at Gartner Inc. in San Jose, Calif. "Coverage is the number one reason for customers to pick a carrier now. Then price, then customer service, and then fifth is the handset."These will include new security options for the companys Business Connection software for both laptops and phones, as well as new corporate data access software, which will dovetail with the introduction of the G100 phone from Hitachi Ltd, which runs Microsoft Corp.s Pocket PC operating system and includes a QWERTY keyboard. In the meantime, to complement the rollout of its wide area wireless network, Sprint this week announced plans to launch a public Wi-Fi wireless LAN access service. Also due later this summer, the service will cover 800 locations, plus roaming agreements with other public Wi-Fi service providers. Customers will receive PCS Connection Manager software that lets them detect Sprint-compatible hot spots. The company also will focus on business customers who want to make Wi-Fi available to visiting customers and vendors, officials said.
To that end, competitor Sprint PCS Group has launched an attack at AT&T Wireless, arguing that Sprint now has a larger coverage area in the United States than AT&T Wireless does. This is a marketing campaign directed at prospective business customers, and the company plans to back it up with new products later in the summer, according to Suzanne Lammers, a spokeswoman for Sprint in Overland Park, Kansas.