Wireless Web phones keep users Net-connected

Wireless Web phones keep users Net-connected

By Susan M. Menke

GCN Staff

As thin clients signal the era of always-connected mobile computing, leading wireless providers are beginning to offer unlimited Internet access on so-called Web phones.

Nextel Communications Inc. of Reston, Va., has rolled out a wireless service that keeps three of its existing telephone models on the Internet continuously. And AT&T Wireless Services of Redmond, Wash., is providing Digital PocketNet connectivity to 40 wireless Web sites with its digital voice plans.

Nextel initially will market its Nextel Online service in 43 metropolitan areas for users of the i1000plus, i700plus and i500plus phones made by Motorola Inc. All are available from the Federal Technology Service's wireless store, at fts.point.com. Nextel officials said the service will reach all the company's markets later this year.

The Nextel Online wireless network, which follows Motorola's proprietary iDEN communications standard, links phone users to text and voice messages, two-way radio and Nextel's Web portal, where they can browse MSN Mobile Web sites and receive e-mail.

The service uses the Mobile IP tunneling protocol from Cisco Systems Inc. of San Jose, Calif., and Wireless Application Protocol software from Phone.com Inc. of Redwood City, Calif.

Nextel's List Manager software on an office PC will synchronize information for multiple phone clients over the air and let an administrator manage the client list.

Two-way text messaging also will be available, according to Nextel's Web site, at nextelonline.nextel.com/nol/commctr.html.

AT&T Digital PocketNet Internet access will work with the company's $99 Ericsson R280LX and $199 Mitsubishi MobileAccess T-250 phones. They use AT&T's 19.2-Kbps cellular digital packet data network plus a time-division-multiple-access network for voice.

Awkward typing on Web phones remains a barrier to their adoption as thin clients. Alphanumeric pagers, personal digital assistants and other handheld devices also impose typing constraint.

Options are extra

The Nextel Online service will cost $14.95 per month in addition to a user's monthly wireless fee. The i1000plus model is free under some government service plans; on others it costs $149.

Nextel also offers a Web dispatching service, priced at $39.95 per month per phone, and IBM Mobile Connect, part of IBM's WebSphere Everyplace Suite, which provides e-mail and calendaring on a PDA, using the Nextel phone as a wireless modem. The Mobile Connect service costs $9.95 per month plus airtime.

AT&T Digital PocketNet basic Web service is free with digital voice plans. A $6.99 service level adds e-mail and 150 fax pages per month; a $14.99 premium plan adds calendaring and contact management functions. The company plans to offer downloadable software for synchronizing the Web phone data with leading PC organizer packages.

Contact Nextel at 800-639-8359 and AT&T Wireless at 800-462-4463.

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