ATLANTA — Editor's Note: View a streaming video demonstration of this GTE Wireless technology in action. (RealPlayer required)Got phone? Got office! GTE today gave a sneak preview of new wireless services which, beginning in October, will help people handle office tasks out of the office with a little help from a wireless digital phone. At the company's Technology Solutions Center in Tampa, Fla., GTE demonstrated services that will link people to e-mail, web-browsing, calendar and contact information - using digital phones linked to laptops, browser-equipped phones or personal digital assistants (PDAs).
GTE expects to introduce the services this fall in Akron, Cleveland and Cincinnati, Ohio; Austin, Texas; Birmingham and Huntsville, Ala.; Bloomington, Ind.; Greensboro and Raleigh, N.C.; Honolulu, Hawaii; Houston, Texas; Indianapolis, Ind.; Lexington and Louisville, Ky.; Memphis, Nashville, and Chattanooga, Tenn.; Norfolk, Richmond and Roanoke, Va.; San Diego, San Francisco and San Jose, Calif.; Seattle, Wash.; and Fort Myers and Tampa, Fla.
"People are already carrying pagers, laptops and cell phones. But they still have to rush back to the office to file a report, place an order or check e-mail. These services let you place the order at your client's office, check e-mail in your parked car, or file your sales report waiting for a client at a coffee shop," said Rob Keller, director of business marketing for GTE Wireless.
The new services, combined with GTE's upgraded digital network, promise to make wireless computing easy, affordable, and immediately useful. "Now, a digital phone links directly to a laptop with a simple cable. No need to purchase a separate cellular-capable modem that could cost anywhere from $250 to $400. No need for a computer science degree to hook it up and make it work," said Keller. "In addition to purchasing new data service, all the customer has to buy is a new digital phone and a cable.
"Workers want mobility. No one wants to feel chained to the office anymore. By the middle of next year, we expect every phone we ship will be able to access the web," added Keller. "We expect these phones and cables to fly off our stores' shelves. Getting the cable to hook it up to their laptop will be a routine part of the transaction."
Trends toward worker mobility, abundance of mobility tools
There are an estimated 32.4 million workers in the United States who spend 20 percent or more of their time away from their desks or primary work environment (Sherwood Research).
According to the Yankee Group, over the next five years, that number will double. Among Fortune 1000 companies recently surveyed by the Yankee Group, 26 percent provide wireless messaging for mobile workers today. Among those that do not, 23 percent plan to do so within one year. Seventy-five percent of wireless phone users also access the Internet, while 30 percent of wireless phone users are also portable computer users.
"The industry has been waiting for the day when wireless computing becomes easy and affordable. GTE has been quietly preparing to offer services that will be easy and immediately useful. There is enormous opportunity here, for both GTE and millions of people who need or want to spend time away from their desks," said Roberta Wiggins, director, wireless mobile communications, the Yankee Group. Of today's nearly 70 million U.S.-based wireless customers, approximately 1.8 million use the wireless network to transmit data today, primarily using laptops with remote dial-up service (Yankee Group, 1999).
In addition to showing the ease of linking a digital phone to a laptop, representatives from Wireless Knowledge demonstrated the RevolvSM service. With the Revolv service, mobile professionals can securely retrieve and send e-mail and have access to calendar and contact information from their company's Microsoftâ Exchange server from a variety of mobile devices, including a digital phone with built-in browser, personal digital assistant or laptop. In long meetings, or sitting on an airplane, workers can subtly and efficiently handle e-mails by pushing one button to either reply with a short "canned" e-mail response or push another button to instantly call the sender. GTE is currently testing the Revolv service and plans to begin customer trials next month.
"Having important information revolving around you at all times has become increasingly critical as professionals are spending less time tethered to their desktops and more time on the road," said Dave Whalen, vice president of sales and marketing for Wireless Knowledge. "We are extremely excited that GTE Wireless is making wireless data a reality and that the Revolv service is contributing to that momentum."
Services will be available at all company retail stores, and through most GTE Wireless sales channels. Coverage will initially be limited to the GTE Wireless digital coverage areas in those cities. Prices will vary based on which capabilities subscribers choose.
About GTEGTE Wireless, headquartered in Atlanta, Ga., provides wireless voice and data telecommunications services to more than 5 million customers in 17 states. GTE Wireless is part of GTE Corp. (NYSE: GTE). More information can be found on the Internet at www.gte.com. Also: J-peg graphics files suitable for newspaper and magazine are available by contacting Stacey Krizan at 404-874-8522.