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Thousands of Ford workers to go wireless

The automaker is "eliminating tethers to the traditional office phone" for more than 8,000 employees, the carrier says.

More than 8,000 Ford employees will no longer be tied to their desk phones, Sprint said this week.

The automaker has signed a deal with Sprint to replace those workers' landline office phones with handsets connected to the Sprint PCS Ready Link service, which together offer walkie-talkie-style capabilities. Employees in Ford's product development unit will be among the first to transition to the new mobile services.

"These wirelessly empowered employees will be able to spend more productive time with the right people and in the right places, rather than behind a desk," Howard Janzen, president of Sprint Business Solutions, said in a release. "We are bringing new speed, spontaneity and interaction to the Ford workplace, wherever it may be, and eliminating tethers to the traditional office phone."

The nationwide Sprint PCS network will also help the automaker to manage its internal communications processes, said Overland Park, Kan.-based Sprint. Sprint said that Ford will be able to use the system to manage a company directory, update account information and group lists, and effect changes to employees' phones using a portal.

For a while now, mobile phones have been scoring over traditional wireline phones, with a large number of people and companies preferring the former as replacements.

A Federal Communications Commission report back in June 2003 highlighted the growing popularity of wireless, saying cell phones now account for nearly a third of voice call revenue.

But there are inherent dangers, too. For instance, in 2003, most cell phone operators failed to sustain service during a blackout that plunged most parts of the Northeast into darkness.