Carriers Renew Focus on Business Customers

Carriers are rushing to roll out networks and services aimed at speed, ease of use and business applications.

Attempting to renew their focus on business customers, carriers are rushing to roll out networks and services aimed at speed, ease of use and business applications.

AT&T Wireless late last month launched EDGE, its next-generation high-speed wireless data service, across North America. Enhanced Data rates for Global Evolution offers average data rates of 100K bps to 130K bps, according to company officials, in Redmond, Wash.

The EDGE service is now available to customers who live in areas that up until now have been served by the companys GSM/GPRS (Global System for Mobile Communications/General Packet Radio Service) network.

There are various data plans for the new service, including an unlimited plan for $80 per month.

The company also introduced the Sony Ericsson Mobile Communications AB GC-82 modem card, which runs in notebook computers. The card costs $150, after a rebate, for customers who sign up for a two-year contract. While officials expect the service to be most popular among notebook users, the company will also offer EDGE phones, including Nokia Corp.s 3200 models and Motorola Inc.s upcoming T725.

AT&T Wireless has also upgraded its mMode data services platform, making it easier to use. It took 74 clicks for a customer to set up mMode on a cell phone when the wireless data service was launched in April of last year, and every application under the mMode umbrella required several clicks as well. The new version, due by months end, requires only two clicks to set up, said John Zeglis, chairman and CEO of AT&T Wireless.

But AT&T is still dealing with a customer relationship management software upgrade glitch from early last month that crippled the companys ability to activate new GSM accounts, and as of late November there were still problems.

"When I called to migrate my service, the automated attendant said that due to an upgrade, they cant get to my records, and they wont be able to help me," said Beirne Konarski, a computer security analyst in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, who tried to activate his GSM phone the week before Thanksgiving. After several calls to various parts of the company, Konarski did manage to upgrade the phone after customer service agents processed the order manually.

PalmSource Inc.s new Palm Powered MobileWorld program gives operators the opportunity to collaborate with PalmSource to ensure their feedback is integral in developing the Palm OS platform.

"For the last 25 years, operators have had a single product called voice," said David Nagel, CEO of PalmSource, in Sunnyvale, Calif. "The new reality is that carriers have something thats potentially more valuable to the enterprise, and they have to know how to sell it. Were working with them to bridge the gulf."

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