Telecoms Tap Into Tailored Services

IBM, Cingular offerings promise to help providers reduce cost of rollouts.

At a time when telecom service providers are increasingly frugal, new technologies are on the way that will allow them to offer customers more tailored services.

At the Supercomm show in Atlanta this week, for example, IBM will expand its open IT framework, the Service Provider Delivery Environment, to help service providers lower the cost of rolling out offerings.

The Armonk, N.Y., company will launch a series of content delivery software that gathers content from multiple sources to help service providers deliver applications to end users quickly without having to worry about the type of transport network or device.

Also at the show, Cingular Wireless Inc., of Atlanta, will tout new mobile data services for the enterprise, including Xpress Mail GoodLink, which enables wireless access to Microsoft Corp. Exchange e-mail. To be pitted against BlackBerry services from Research In Motion Ltd., GoodLink will be available on wireless handsets this month.

According to Cingular officials, GoodLink will save IT departments time and money because it doesnt require software to be installed on every PC, and it allows real-time synchronization.

Cingular is also championing GoodInfo, a wireless information system that enables access to applications on an intranet using standard tools such as XML and HTTP. GoodInfo will allow enterprises to make their sales force automation and field force automation systems mobile.

Although companies such as IBM and Cingular plan to bring wireless data services to all kinds of enterprises, organizations relying on such services today are looking for highly specialized functionality.

"The demand is for vertical-type applications," said Nelson Ramos, vice president and CIO at Memorial Hospitals Association, in Modesto, Calif. "Were trying to look toward solutions for an integrated approach to medication administration."

The challenge for Ramos is finding providers that understand the complexities of communications within the health care industry, including the life-or-death impact of information and the confidential nature of patient data.

Although the associations members are accustomed to using wireless systems for administrative purposes such as inventory control, they are moving more carefully into using them for patient care, said Ramos, an eWeek Corporate Partner. With improvements, the technology is expected to enable doctors to use handheld devices to safely document patient information and to gather reference materials.

On other fronts, vendors are pushing products that allow service providers to better tailor their traditional network offerings. Tweaking the bandwidth-on-demand concept, Integral Access Inc., of Chelmsford, Mass., will roll out at Supercomm the latest version of its PurePacket access network system. The product includes support for the emerging G.SHDSL, or G.991.2 Single pair High bit-rate Digital Subscriber Line, standard now in Europe and due to reach the United States this year.