NEW YORK-As 1996 drew to a close, the impact of the Internet on wireless communications manifested itself in a flurry of announcements from an array of providers.
“It’s all about making the Internet easier to use. The customers coming on line today are not information archaeologists,” said Melissa Bane, senior Internet analyst for The Yankee Group, Boston.
Here is a sampling of recent developments geared to enhance ease of Internet use and access for customers in the wireless arena:
AirTouch Cellular of Los Angeles introduced its Wireless Office, a box containing all the equipment needed for a wireless connection to office files, fax machines, e-mail, databases and the Internet. The box performs these feats when connected to a laptop computer, a data-capable Motorola Inc. cellular phone and AirTouch Cellular service.
“Thanks to Wireless Office, business people … can quickly and easily check product inventories, place orders and monitor work in progress without first having to search for a landline phone jack to plug into,” said Brian Jones, general manager.
BellSouth Mobility stores in Atlanta offered customers free BellSouth.net software kits with Windows 3.1 and an insert describing how to upgrade to Windows ’95 as needed. Besides Internet access, BellSouth.net service offers a customized version of Netscape Navigator, e-mail, an optional site blocking feature and a gateway to local and national information and a Yellow Pages directory that the company said is easy to use.
“We are responding to consumer demand for wireless access to the Internet,” said Ted Creech, public relations manager for BellSouth. “We find that cellular subscribers are among those people who desire a lot of contact with and quick access to the Internet.”
ADC Telecommunications Inc., Minneapolis, completed its purchase of the San Diego-based Wireless Infrastructure Equipment group of PCSI, a Cirrus Logic Inc. subsidiary. ADC’s new acquisition produces Cellular Digital Packet Data base station equipment for wireless services. It also is developing personal Air Communications Technology (pACT) base stations for AT&T Wireless Services Inc.
Reflection Technology in Waltham, Mass., announced it had developed “virtual computer” video screens that allow pager or cellular phone users to view a full page of e-mail messages over narrowband personal communications services mobile networks. “It’s a lot cheaper to get messages on this NPCS than on a laptop,” said David Huffman, Reflection’s senior director of business development.
Reflection reportedly is in discussions with pager manufacturers Ericsson Inc., Motorola Inc. and Nokia Corp. about licensing its virtual video graphics array technology.
NetSat Express, Hauppauge, N.Y., a strategic alliance between Worldcomm Systems Inc. and Hughes Network Systems Inc., joined forces with AppliedTheory Communications to provide 400 kilobits-per-second satellite Internet access and comprehensive Web services to countries in Eastern Europe, South and Central America, Africa and the Asia/Pacific Rim.
“By using NetSat Express’ wireless technology and AppliedTheory’s U.S.-based T-3 network, virtually anyone in the world can jet-ski the Internet at three times the speed of [Integrated Services Digital Network] and 10-15 times faster than dial-up modems now provide,” said Richard Mandelbaum, president of AppliedTheory.
Motorola Inc.’s Platform Software Division, Atlanta, and Unwired Planet Inc. announced an alliance to provide what the companies are calling “efficient and economical” delivery of Internet-based content to cellular smart phones, alphanumeric pagers and other wireless communicators. Unwired Planet, Redwood Shores, Calif., provides an open software platform that allows mobile devices to browse live Internet or intranet-based information through existing wireless data networks. Its applications will be supported on Motorola’s Memos client/server operating system.
“Our joint work with Motorola will bring the Internet to millions of cellular phone and pager users,” said Alain Rossman, chief executive officer of Unwired Planet. The company is working to deploy its technology with wireless carriers, including: AT&T Wireless Services Inc., Bell Atlantic Nynex Mobile, Comcast Cellular Corp.and GTE Mobilnet Inc.
Motorola Telco, London, announced the advent of InterMessage, which allows Global System for Mobile communications subscribers to receive e-mail messages on their GSM handsets. InterMessage allows any computer user worldwide with Internet access to send an e-mail message to any GSM phone anywhere that GSM roaming agreements exist. The new service is available to Telco customers on Cellnet and Vodafone GSM networks.
AirMedia Live, Newport Beach, Calif., introduced its Live Internet Broadcast Network service, based on pager technology, to allow Internet users to keep up-to-date with their e-mail without being connected to the Internet. Users can filter and forward e-mail messages to their desktops through AirMedia without being linked to the Internet. E-mail is forwarded via the Internet from a user’s regular mail server to AirMedia’s mail server, where a message is constructed and sent, using pager technology, via relay station to the recipient.
AirMedia is negotiating a deal with Microsoft Corp. to include wireless technology in Microsoft’s NetMeeting application for Internet conferencing.
CellularVision USA, New York, announced it is entering a three-month beta trial of its CVDM system, which delivers Internet services wirelessly at 550 kilobits per second, or 20 times faster than the fastest modem commonly used in households and businesses.