BellSouth Readies Mobile Offerings

Communications giant BellSouth is teaming up with wireless platform provider Air2Web to deliver e-mail, sales data, inventory levels, and other data to mobile corporate users.

Communications giant BellSouth Corp. and wireless platform provider Air2Web Inc. next Monday will announce a partnership to deliver new corporate mobile services to BellSouth customers.

Based on Air2Webs Mobile Internet Platform software, the services will include remote access to e-mail, sales data, inventory levels, shipping status, stock quotes, weather forecasts and any other data corporate customers might require.

Some of these corporate customers may want to host the platform in-house, and BellSouth will help market the platform to them. But, for the most part, BellSouth plans to host services from its e-Business centers, which is indicative of a recent push for carriers to become both data service and network providers.

"The overall interest in outsourced services is continuing to grow, especially in the large businesses," said Jai Menon, corporate officer and executive vice president for applications, strategy and product innovation at Bell South in Atlanta. "Were finding that customers are coming to the realization that they need at least some part of their services to be hosted."

Services will start in January in Atlanta and shortly thereafter in Miami, Menon said. Cingular Wireless will be offering expanded services based on the platform, officials said.

As part of the partnership, BellSouth is taking an equity investment in Air2Web of less than 10 percent.

The Air2Web platform uses an XML-based interface that enables developers to create applications that connect directly to back-end systems. Currently, Air2Web has 70 corporate applications deployed throughout the country, most of which cater to vertical markets.