CTIA Wireless 2003 Kicks Off

Wireless carriers at the show are wooing customers with a mix of flashy phones and business services.

NEW ORLEANS—Wireless carriers at CTIA Wireless 2003 here are wooing customers with a mix of flashy phones and business services.

Sprint PCS Group at the show joined with Sanyo Electric Co. Ltd. to unveil the PCS Phone by Sanyo 8100, a camera phone that lets users add a 10 second voice message to any picture. The phone will be available in the second quarter.

Additionally, Sprint and Samsung Telecommunications America announced availability of the PCS Phone by Samsung SPH-A600, which features a rotating flip camera. And Sprint and Microsoft Corp. announced that Sprint will offer two Microsoft Pocket PC-based phones in the second quarter: the PCS Phone by Samsung-i700 and the PCS Phone by Hitachi G100. Both include phone and computing features in addition to a digital camera.

AT&T Wireless and Siemens Information and Communication Mobile at the show announced availability of the C56 mobile phone starting this month and the S56 mobile phone beginning in the second quarter of 2003. The dual band GSM/GPRS phones both include Internet access and Java capability that lets users download applications from the Web.

Verizon Wireless, meanwhile, is focusing more on the business set at the show. The company announced that it will start offering high-speed data access service by the end of the year. In the third quarter, Verizon will launch 1X EV-DO to business customers in San Diego and Washington. The service, which offers speeds of up to 2.4Mb ps, will let corporate customers use the network as an extension of their corporate LAN, officials said.

Also in the third quarter, Verizon Wireless, plans to offer complementary access between its own branded 802.11b wireless LAN "hot spot" service and its wide area network. Working with hot spot company Wayjport Inc., Verizon will provide network monitoring, authentication and billing for the roaming service, which will be available through existing distribution channels, including B2B sales teams.

Officials noted that there are similarities between the 1X EV-DO and WLAN services, namely the speed, but said the company needs both.

"802.11 will be great spectrum relief," said Jim Straight, vice president of wireless data and Internet services at Verizon in Laurel, Md. He added, though, that Verizon has sufficient spectrum to offer EV-DO services to several metropolitan areas. The company will branch those services out if they are successful in San Diego and Washington, he said.

Services that enable hand-off between WANs and WLAN hot spots are probably a year away, Straight said.

Pricing for the EV-DO and WLAN services have yet to be announced.

On Tuesday, Verizon Wireless is expected to introduce new hardware, including a RIM BlackBerry e-mail/phone device that supports CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access) networks.

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