Wireless Internet And E-Mail Selection Growing

By Joseph Palenchar On Mar 12 2001 - 8:00am

NEW YORK -Wireless carriers, application service providers (ASPs) and equipment makers went to the Internet World Wireless Show to unveil products and services that deliver e-mail and Web pages to wireless devices.

Companies making announcements included ASPs GoAmerica and Yada Yada, equipment maker Sierra Wireless, and carriers Arch, Metricom and Motient.

In other show announcements, U.S. Robotics unveiled its first wireless-LAN products using the 802.11b HRb wireless standard, and Emblaze demonstrated technology that streams MPEG-4 full-motion video to wireless phones at up to 30 frames per second over 2.5G wireless networks.

Here's what the companies launched:

Arch Wireless: The two-way messaging carrier said it has begun marketing the Glenayre-made @ctiveLink, an Arch-network two-way wireless module for Handspring's Visor. For now, Arch is marketing the module and Visor direct to business with wireless service dubbed Webster 300. The module is also available on Glenayre's website.

Subscribers must get an Arch e-mail address, but Arch is also marketing Motorola V-Client software to give enterprise users access to their corporate e-mail.

The @ctiveLink module is also available for the SkyTel and Metrocall networks.

GoAmerica: The Hackensack, N.J., ASP began bundling its Go.Web wireless-Internet service with Casio's Cassiopeia Pocket PC and clip-on Nextcell PocketSpider CDPD radiomodem. It's available on GoAmerica's website and to the company's existing retail distribution, which includes Staples, J & R Computer World and CompUSA.

With the Go.Web service, Cassiopeia users can receive e-mail with attachments sent to up to 10 existing POP3 and IMAP4 e-mail addresses. On the Pocket PC device, users will be able to view and edit Microsoft Word and Excel attachments. Users can also browse the Web wirelessly via Microsoft's Explorer Web browser. Pricing was unavailable.

Metricom: The wireless-data carrier, which offers 128-Kbps Ricochet-brand service in 13 markets and 28.8-Kbps service in two markets, said a Novatel-made Merlin radiomodem operating on its network recently became available through Staples. It's a Type 2 PC Card-size unit.

Metricom sells direct and through ASPs such as GoAmerica, WorldCom, Aether and Wireless Web Connect.

The company is seeking additional funding to expand its network, which uses the unlicensed 900MHz and 2.4GHz bands. It uses spread-spectrum technology and a network of utility-pole transceivers to deliver data wirelessly to users in vehicles traveling up to 70 mph.

Motient: Although the packet-data network didn't display the product, a Motient-network radiomodem for the Palm will be available in the third quarter from modem maker Wave Net, the company said.

Motient will target enterprises with direct sales, but "we'll see if our current [distribution] partners are interested," said product management director Dave Dennis.

Pricing and bundles services haven't been decided.

GoAmerica is one of Motient's distribution partners.

OmniSky: The Palo Alto, Calif., ASP announced several developments, including March 15 availability of Corporate Link service that will add Microsoft Outlook e-mail redirection to its current POP3 and IMAP4 e-mail redirection services.

OmniSky will make available a free software download that will enable CDPD-equipped Palms to automatically receive Outlook corporate e-mail. The software will run on the hard drive of a networked PC, which must remain on for redirection to occur.

Chief strategy officer Dave Rensin said his company's software adds some important advantages over rival Blackberry service and software. For one, the Outlook client can run on multiple types of e-mail servers-including POP3, IMAP4 and Lotus Notes-not just Microsoft Exchange servers.

On top of that, said Rensin, when a user deletes an e-mail or marks it as read on the wireless device, a wireless command is sent to the PC to delete the e-mail or mark it as read.

In another update, OmniSky said Hewlett-Packard will roll out its Jornada Pocket PC to retailers, possibly as soon as March, and offer a separate bundle consisting of Novatel's CDPD-radiomodem and OmniSky software.

"HP will decide the distribution, which will complement ours," said Rensin. "They'll go to national retailers that we are not in." The company is currently beta-testing a CDPD radiomodem and its service with the Compaq iPaq, he added.

In a third announcement, OmniSky said that later this year it will offer V Vault-developed software that will enable its subscribers to preview Microsoft Word and Excel documents and pdf files sent wirelessly to their Palms. OmniSky already makes it possible to redirect such documents to fax machines or PCs without previewing such attachments.

OmniSky launched service last May and had 34,000 subscribers at the end of the fourth quarter. Its 1,600 retail outlets include RadioShack, CompUSA, Staples and Office Depot.

Sierra Wireless: The radiomodem maker showed a mockup of a Type 2 PC Card-size triband-GSM/GPRS radiomodem due late this year or early next. The AirCard 700 will send and receive data at data rates up to 115 Kbps in both directions, said a spokeswoman.

The company demonstrated its Ricochet-network radiomodem, the Type 2 PC Card-size AirCard 400. It sends data at speeds up to 128 Kbps, and receives at speeds up to 64 Kbps, via Metricom's Ricochet network. It's due in March at an expected consumer price of $399.

The company also showed a circuit-switched CDMA PC Card at $399.

The radiomodems are sold through wireless ASPs, including GoAmerica. The ASPs sell direct to consumers and businesses and through retailers.

U.S. Robotics: The company demonstrated its first home-network devices using wireless 802.11b HR technology, whose data rate runs up to 11MBps. In a couple months, a spokesman said, the company will unveil its plans for HomePNA and power-line home-network technologies.

The 802.11 products, available on the company's website since January, will be available in a handful of retailers, including CompUSA, in the first quarter. The products are the $149-suggested-retail PC Card, $299 access point, and $189 PC Card/PCI adapter package. A USB dongle will be available on the website beginning March at an approximate suggested $129.

The company also plans cable and DSL modems equipped with 802.11.

Yada Yada: The New York City-based wireless ASP has tapped New York area computer specialty stores and is targeting national retailers for its service, which is bundled with CDPD radiomodems for the Palm and Visor, a spokeswoman said.

The company's service delivers wireless access to any HTML site and redirection of up to six POP3 or IMAP4 e-mail accounts. Commercial service began in January. The service price is $39.95 per month for unlimited use with no roaming charges.

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