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Sprint unit to focus on wireless services

The telephone company introduces a consulting practice that targets the emerging market for wireless applications.

Sprint on Wednesday introduced a consulting practice that targets the emerging wireless application market.

The phone giant said that its new consulting unit is designed to help clients develop their wireless initiatives and implement enterprise-level applications on any mobile device. Sprint is aiming to assist customers in conducting business when they're away from their desktop by affording a way to access critical business applications and data from a handheld device.

Many technology players have been sinking their teeth into the wireless market--a sector that looks to be a lucrative opportunity for a gamut of companies from communications providers to software makers to consulting services. Though this market is set for huge growth, recent economic woes and jittery markets overall have spurred a slowdown.

Still, software companies including Oracle, SAP and PeopleSoft are racing to supply the enabling software to build applications for "m-commerce," or mobile commerce, in which people can shop or conduct business through wireless devices such as a cell phone.

Meanwhile, a number of consulting houses, from goliaths IBM Global Services and Electronic Data Systems to smaller niche players such as Agency.com and Razorfish, also have been making a wireless push--creating practices centered on providing wireless strategy planning and other services.

With the new consulting division, dubbed Sprint E|Solutions' Enterprise Mobile Practice, Sprint plans to deliver a suite of network services fitted for a client's wireless needs, such as helping customers link their business applications to mobile devices and design customized wireless applications.

In recent months, Sprint and telecommunications companies have had difficulty making a transition from data to wireless. Still, the company, which warned last month that first-quarter results would fall short of expectations in part because of sagging long-distance revenue, said it experienced strong growth in its wireless services.