More Nextel phones get ready for business

The operator, merging with Sprint, sharpens up its mobile data offerings to defend from heavy competition.

Ben Charny
Ben Charny Staff Writer, CNET News.com
Ben Charny
covers Net telephony and the cellular industry.
2 min read
Parrying competitors homing in on its mobile corporate-data customers, Nextel Communications announced Monday that almost every cell phone it sells can now access office e-mail and calendar listings.

Nextel's new Mobile Email Enhanced service will use push technology, which automatically sends information to pre-selected phones. Because push technology is relatively simple, a wide variety of phones can use it. Nextel, which has a dominant share of the mobile corporate-data market, based the product on Java technology from Sun Microsystems, which every Nextel phone uses.

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.