Nokia Networks, a subsidiary of cell phone maker Nokia, and Cable & Wireless will together create wireless data centers for delivering wireless Web content and services to mobile network operators, Internet service providers (ISPs) and large corporations.
The move is strategic, as both companies prepare for a growing shift in Web access. Cellular phones and handheld devices are rapidly replacing PCs as the main means of getting to Internet content.
Application service providers (ASPs) such as Cable & Wireless typically manage data that corporations access remotely, either over the Internet or via a local area network (LAN) connection. Providing content and services to ISPs, cellular phone networks and others is seen as a high-growth business.
The number of people using wireless devices with inbound and outbound data capabilities will reach 61.5 million in 2003, up from 7.4 million last year, an increase of 728 percent, according to International Data Corp.
In Europe, which is ahead of the United States in adoption of the Wireless Application Protocol (WAP) and other emerging technologies, demand for wireless Internet access is exploding. IDC predicts wireless e-commerce transactions will top $37 billion by 2004.
Forrester Research expects wireless Internet revenues to reach $3.8 billion in 2005, up from $5.3 million this year.
"Analysts believe that in the next three years, 350 million people will be accessing Internet content via mobile devices," Cable & Wireless chief executive Graham Wallace said in a statement. "Cable & Wireless will offer a fully managed, end-to-end wireless Internet service to our business customers, which allows them to benefit from the huge growth in this market."
As part of the deal, Cable & Wireless will provide data infrastructure and connectivity to its global IP backbone, while Nokia will handle software and services. The majority of wireless Internet content and services will not appear until later this year.
Cable & Wireless will deliver initial services from a Swindon, United Kingdom, data center opening next week. In the United States, services will be delivered from data centers in Reston, Va., and Santa Clara, Calif.