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Wireless-messaging carrier Motient plans second-quarter shipments of a new MobileModem radiomodem that will deliver eLink wireless e-mail service to users of Palm M500 and M505 PDAs.
The carrier also said it expects to offer a radiomodem to deliver eLink service to Compaq's iPAQ PDA in the third quarter, and sometime during the second half, it hopes to partner with an application services provider to offer wireless Web-browsing service for MobileModem-equipped Palms. The service would let users access WAP and HTML sites.
The company currently offers its sleds for the Palm V and VX series through its Web site and through its direct-to-business sales operation. The carrier, however, has begun to target retailers and wireless resellers, such as SkyTel and MetroCall, for the current and future radiomodems, said business development director David Wachter.
For PDAs, eLink service delivers Blackberry-like access to a user's existing e-mail address. It lets PDAs share an existing POP3/IMAP4 e-mail address, which could be offered by an enterprise or ISP.
Last November, the company expanded its eLink wireless-email service to Palms for the first time with the shipment of MobileModems that attach to V and Vx series devices. The company previously said it would expand the service to the M series by the end of 2001 or early first quarter 2002.
MobileModems take the form of a sled that attaches to handheld devices. The modems communicate through Motient's 800MHz 19.2kbps packet-data network, which operates in 99 percent of the top 565 largest cities and reaches 220 million people, based on residential addresses, Motient said.
The Palm V and Vx MobileModems are sold through Motient's web site for $279, or $179 net with a year's service contract.
The latest models will include some enhancements, Wachter said, including a redesign that allows for the attachment of Motient's portable QWERTY keyboard to the Palm M series. The iPAQ sled will also permit the attachment of a keyboard to the iPAQ PDA.
For the iPAQ, Motient chose a sled rather than a PC Card form factor, Wachter said, because an always-on PC Card radiomodem would work off the iPAQ's battery, reducing the iPAQ's life on a single charge. An iPAQ's battery typically lasts for about a day, he said. Motient's sleds, on the other hand, incorporate their own rechargeable battery, which typically delivers a week of use.
To conserve the batteries of the PDAs, MobileModems wake up the PDAs when e-mail arrives.
To redirect e-mail to the PDAs, Motient hosts a proxy server/gateway that fetches messages from the user's enterprise or ISP e-mail address at user-settable intervals down to three minutes. The server then immediately sends the collected e-mail to the device, which buzzes and vibrates and commands the PDA to display a notification window. Users can also manually fetch e-mail whenever they want.
Unlike other e-mail services for Palm devices, Motient said its service automatically sends the body of an e-mail up to a maximum 2 kilobits, not just the header, at regular intervals. Up to 50 kilobits can be downloaded afterwards. Other Palm-oriented wireless e-mail services send the header, and users must then select the e-mails they want to download, Motient said.
Motient's service works with POP3/IMAP4 ISP e-mail accounts and corporate e-mail servers that use a POP3 or IMAP4 interface in conjunction with Microsoft Exchange, Lotus Notes, and Novell Groupware corporate-network platforms.
For IT departments that want to enable e-mail redirection enterprise-wide, Motient offers an eLink Enterprise gateway that sits beside a POP3/IMAP4-enabled enterprise email server.
In a change from a previous report, Motient said it isn't necessary to offer a desktop solution that comes with PC software that individual users would load onto their PC's hard drive to redirect e-mail. Individual users can use Motient's proxy server to access their e-mail, even in an enterprise environment, Wachter said.
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