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Compaq inks wireless software pact

The three-year deal will help the company bill customers of its wireless data service, a segment analysts say is still a long way from appealing to the masses.

    Compaq Computer will use Convergys software to help run its wireless device service, the companies announced Thursday.

    The computer maker will use Convergys' Geneva software in a three-year deal to bill customers of the service, which runs on devices like the iPaq and the BlackBerry e-mail pager. Convergys will run the software in its own data centers and provide support services to Compaq customers. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

    Compaq has offered the service for about 18 months and sees it as a way for it to expand beyond hardware and become more of a one-stop shop for business and individual customers.

    The Convergys software gives wireless providers another way to make money because with the software, they can bill for more services. Compaq's customers typically pay a flat monthly fee for the wireless data service, and the new software gives the company the option to bill by the minute or by the transaction.

    Shane Patterson, a Convergys marketing executive, said that data providers, for example, could bill customers for a variety of short-text message services. Customers would pay for incoming or outgoing messages or pay a fee for a specific number of messages sent or received.

    Yet some industry analysts say wireless data service has yet to reach a point of mass acceptance.

    Analyst Jason Briggs of The Yankee Group said that just a few years ago, many people thought wireless data service was going to reinvent the way people interact with devices, but the revolution hasn't happened, because there is not a comparable service driving people to use wireless data like e-mail and Web surfing are doing for the Internet.

    "The killer app for wireless data has not been invented yet," he said.