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IBM loops in more wireless

Big Blue touts new wireless capabilities, including mobile conference calling and "push to talk" technology, for its telephone network equipment installed in thousands of offices.

IBM has introduced new wireless capabilities for its telephone network equipment installed in thousands of offices, including mobile conference calling and "push to talk" cell phone technology.

The new features for Big Blue's WebSphere Application Server for Telecom service are available through a partnership announced Monday with Teltier Technologies. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The new service includes Teltier's wireless conference calling, where a "buddy list," similar to those found in instant messaging, shows whether or not a person is on a cell phone, said Marty Slatnick, business development executive for IBM's software group.

This is the first time IBM has offered such a feature either directly or through a third-party arrangement, Slatnick said. Phone and network equipment maker Siemens is selling Teltier's services in six European countries, said Sharad Sharma, chief executive of Teltier.

IBM also introduced its "push to talk" technology, which connects cell phones instantly just like a walkie-talkie. Of the new services, the technology has already shown it can succeed in a fickle U.S. market of more than 141 million customers. U.S. push-to-talk use is expected to grow this year when Sprint PCS and Verizon Wireless join Nextel Communications in offering the technology.

Big Blue is beefing up its assortment of cell phone offerings for corporate clients just as major wireless carriers Verizon Wireless, Sprint PCS and AT&T Wireless are devoting more effort selling airtime to business clients.