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WebLink’s 2-Way Messaging Goes Retail

WebLink Wireless (formerly PageMart) will bring two-way messaging and wireless data to high-volume retail channels with the launch of service beginning at the end of January.

Service costs will start at $9.99/month compared to about $25/month for two-way service available from other carriers. Subscriber-unit costs will begin at $199, with one under-$200 model equipped with a QWERTY keyboard. Other keyboard-equipped pagers start at around $369-$395.

The service will also deliver e-mail and information on demand to the carrier’s two-way devices.

To date, paging carriers have made two-way service available mostly through direct-sales channels to corporate customers and businesspeople, although carrier SkyTel also makes its two-way service available through Office Depot and through local resellers that operate retail outlets.

The first two-way pager available through WebLink will be Motorola’s $365 keyboard-equipped T930 PageWriter, which incorporates PDA functionality. It will be available January 15 through such retailers as Best Buy, OfficeMax and The Good Guys. RadioShack will run a regional test of T930 sales early in 2000.

On February 1, the carrier will begin offering the $199 Glenayre’s AccessLink II, which features a virtual onscreen keyboard for composing short messages. Best Buy, OfficeMax and The Good Guys might also offer that pager, too, said WebLink president Ross Buckenham.

Beginning in the early second quarter, Motorola will make available to WebLink two new two-way pagers that feature small QWERTY keyboards. They’re on display in Motorola’s booth in the Sands with end-user prices estimated by the company at less than $200 and less than $400, respectively.

One of them, the keyboard-equipped under-$200 Talkabout T900, incorporates an address book capable of storing 25 addresses, four-line 80-character display, 128KB message memory, push-data reception, and size comparable to a one-way pager at 3.19 x 2.125 x 0.91 inches.

The step-up Timeport P935 adds full-featured personal information manager (PIM) applications that can be synced via IrDA-standard infrared signals with a PC’s PIM applications or with PIMs in Palm organizers and other handheld devices. The device also features 6.5MB of memory.

Versions of the pagers will be made for ReFlex 25 two-way networks such as WebLink’s and for the ReFlex 50 network operated by SkyTel.

Motorola will also make its new T350, a one-line alpha pager for ReFlex 25 and 50 networks, available to WebLink. Its price was unavailable.