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Wireless firms aim for the cubicle

Sprint PCS and RIM join other wireless companies in selling businesses more access to e-mail and other applications when workers are away from the office.

Wireless e-mailing and other services got down to business Monday.

Sprint PCS and Research In Motion announced products and services that give workers more access to their e-mail accounts and other applications when away from the office. The companies are among the many reaching out to businesses with employees who need such remote access.

Wireless carrier Sprint PCS began offering a wireless e-mail service for companies that want to use its higher speed, higher voice capacity PCS Vision cell phone network launched last week. The package gives access to Microsoft Outlook or Lotus Notes e-mail, corporate calendars, and corporate directories.

RIM announced that its BlackBerry pagers will soon be able to view e-mail attachments. The company will launch trials of the new devices sometime this summer. The about 350,000 BlackBerry users now have to get software from other companies in order to do so.

RIM, with its BlackBerry pager, is considered the pioneer in the market. But now carriers like Sprint PCS and Verizon Wireless have built new high-speed cellular telephone networks, so they want to start selling their own BlackBerry-like services and devices to companies.

"It's one of the main reasons we launched our (new) network," Verizon Wireless spokesman Jim Gerace said. The company recently offered a promotion designed to draw people to its wireless network.

Nextel Communications has been selling its higher-end cell phones and services, like over-the-air software downloads, for more than a year. It recently began selling a color screen handset that uses a miniaturized version of Sun Microsystems' Java software to download software onto phones.

Wireless carrier AT&T Wireless recently inked a pact with Microsoft. The two companies will be selling BlackBerry-like services to small and midsized companies.

Sprint PCS director of business marketing Jason Guesman said its new service, called "Business Connection Enterprise Edition," is generally aimed at companies of up to about 5,000 employees.

"We're trying to take advantage of the market opportunity (that RIM) exposed," he said. "All of our data shows a huge demand, but RIM only has 300,000 users. The market is there."

The Sprint PCS service uses technology from Redwood City-based Seven, a wireless software maker.

In other news Monday, Sprint PCS made changes to its basic subscription service offered to general customers. The carrier now offers 300 minutes for weekday phone calls and 3,200 minutes for night and weekend dialing for $34.99. Before Monday, the same monthly fee came with 200 weekday minutes and 3,300 night and weekend minutes.