Nextel's move effectively makes available as many as three variants of its popular business mobile office products to almost all of its 15.5 million subscribers, rather than just to those who can afford specialty products such as BlackBerry mobile communicators.
By increasing the availability of its mobile corporate-data service, Nextel stands a better chance of defending itself against Cingular Wireless and Verizon Wireless--the No. 1 and No. 2 U.S. cell phone operators, respectively--now heavily courting the U.S. business segment. Nextel is on the verge of merging with Sprint Communications.
The battle among cell phone operators to win business customers is of increasing importance now that the nation's top 100 markets--a significant portion of the nationwide market--are virtually saturated with cell phones. Operators can no longer count on adding new standard-service customers to please shareholders.
"Nextel has opened up mobile e-mail to a broad market," said Brian Bogosian, chairman of Redwood Shores, Calif.-based Visto, which is supplying the underlying technology.
Nextel sells the new push service in three ways: Mobile Email Enhanced with a monthly 2MB download limit for $15 a month; a $20-a-month plan with 2MB of Mobile Email Enhanced plus unlimited text messaging and wireless Web browsing; and a $30-a-month plan that includes unlimited Mobile Email Enhanced, Web browsing and text messaging.