High-Speed Wireless Nets Spawn Applications

Increased development ushers in comprehensive carrier packages.

Bolstered by the promise of increased carrier support, third-party developers are creating applications for corporate customers that take advantage of high-speed wireless networks.

The closing gap between service providers and software vendors was in evidence here at the 3GSM World Congress last week as dozens of developers unveiled business applications for wireless carriers to deploy. The increased development should spur comprehensive application packages from carriers.

New products being pitched to carriers include third-party wireless conferencing, messaging and platform management. But while things are improving, developers and users maintain that carrier support for enterprise wireless applications has been slow.

"None of them have been great about pursuing the enterprise," said Ellen Daley, vice president of technology at ArcStream Solutions Inc., a wireless systems integration and consulting company in Watertown, Mass., whose customers include Harvard Medical School and Staples Inc.

Daley said Verizon Wireless Inc. and Sprint PCS Group, which run 1xRTT networks, have been more focused on enterprise applications than those companies that operate GPRS (General Packet Radio Service) networks.

"The GPRS guys have been less aggressive about it, but theyre getting a clue," she said.

Taking advantage of the renewed carrier interest last week were companies such as Glenayre Electronics Inc., which introduced a presence and availability management platform that will let service providers offer instant wireless conferencing services to business users.

The service, which can be tied to Microsoft Corp.s Outlook functions, will be available to carriers next quarter, said officials at Glenayre, in Duluth, Ga.

Meanwhile, Smartner Information Systems Ltd. rolled out Office Extender, software that runs on top of IBMs WebSphere middleware. It is designed for service providers that want to distribute applications to businesses that dont have the resources to integrate wireless technology into their own systems, said officials at the Helsinki, Finland, company.

IBM at 3GSM announced Wireless Enterprise Delivery Environment, a framework for connecting wireless networks with enterprise systems. In addition, the company is building two Wireless Enterprise Labs, one in Raleigh, N.C., and one in LaGaude, France, which will be open to IBM business partners that want to build applications based on the platform, said officials at the Armonk, N.Y., company. The framework is similar to the companys Service Provider Deliver Environment for carriers, officials said.

In response to calls for carriers to increase work with developers, AT&T Wireless Services Inc. last week said it is forging closer ties with content providers, offering more flexible revenue-sharing plans, officials said.