National carrier Cingular Wireless today announced a hosted service that enables customers to get access to their corporate e- mail via a wireless connection.
Based on software from Seven Networks Inc., Cingular Xpress Mail is available immediately to corporate customers who use either Lotus Softwares Notes or Microsoft Corp.s Exchange messaging systems.
The service runs on General Packet Radio Services, Global System for Mobile communication and Time Division Multiple Access networks and on any Web-enabled devices that support those networks. This means that Cingulars corporate customers can use the same device for phone calls and e-mail access. Previously, Cingular had offered data access service only on the Mobitex network, which supports data but not voice.
The service is deployed in conjunction with a companys IT department. It is not a behind-the-corporate-firewall solution like Research in Motion Ltd.s Blackberry Enterprise Server. Rather, Cingular hosts the transactions from its own server.
However, Cingular provides initial consulting services for corporate customers to make sure that the data will be somewhat secure.
"We make sure that the data thats sent over the Internet is never, ever in plain text," said Tyson Harper, product manager for corporate strategies at Cingular, in Atlanta. A recent study found that hacking into plain text wireless transmissions is fairly easy.
Customers choose the format in which they want their data encrypted, he said, and some choose a solution in which Cingulars VPN (virtual private network) talks to the customers VPN via a tunnel. For customers whose security needs are severe, however, he recommends a behind-the-firewall server. Cingular will be offering more solutions in this space in the next several months.
Cingular Xpress Mail costs $10 per month per user in addition to existing service charges.
Sprint PCS Group introduced a similar service based on Sevens technology in January.