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OmniSky fees reach new heights with iPaq

The wireless service provider plans to announce it will offer Internet access for Compaq's iPaqs--for a higher monthly fee than it charges other handheld owners.

OmniSky plans to announce Wednesday that it will offer wireless Internet service for Compaq Computer iPaqs--for a higher monthly fee than it charges owners of other handhelds.

Palo Alto, Calif.-based OmniSky, which is best known for offering wireless service on Palm handhelds, started offering service in November for Hewlett-Packard's Jornada handheld. The Jornada, like the iPaq, uses Microsoft's Pocket PC operating system--the main rival to Palm's operating system.

OmniSky is offering unlimited Internet service to iPaq owners for $54.95 a month for those who sign a one-year contract and $59.95 per month without a one-year commitment. That is significantly higher than the $29.95 to $39.95 OmniSky charges Jornada and Palm owners. The company attributes this difference to its initial research showing that iPaq owners tend to log on more.

"They are viewing it more as a laptop replacement," said Kristine Stebbins, OmniSky's vice president of marketing.

GoAmerica and Metricom already offer wireless service for the iPaq.

OmniSky, which offers Internet service for handheld owners using a variety of modems and Internet service providers, has been testing its iPaq service with 600 customers since January.

The company is also offering a bundle of the Sierra Wireless AirCard 300 modem and a year of OmniSky service for $599--which is actually cheaper than a year of service purchased separately. A second bundle includes the iPaq add-on expansion sleeve with the modem and year of service for $699.

Separately, the company announced Tuesday that it has inked deals with Extended Systems and AlterEgo to expand customers' access to their corporate e-mail and intranets. Palm is in the process of acquiring Extended Systems.

OmniSky also plans to begin testing service for Casio's Cassiopeia E-125 handheld and is working to develop a service plan for Palm's new m500 series of handhelds, Stebbins said.