Tech Roundup: CTIA Edition
Carriers Push Biz Email Gadgets: As expected, Cingular Wireless has become the first U.S. operator to offer Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK)'s enterprise-focused E62 model stateside. Unstrung reported last week that the largest cellular carrier in the U.S. was testing the phone and Cingular used the start of the CTIA show today as the launch pad for the phone. (See Cingular, Nokia Intro E62 and Nokia, RIM & Moto: 'Prosumer' Trinity.)
The EDGE-compatible, Qwerty-keyboard device will retail for "as low as $149.99," according to Cingular. In keeping with its business-friendly image, the phone is loaded with mobile email options, including Good Mobile Messaging, Cingular Xpress Mail, BlackBerry Connect, Mail for Exchange (direct push corporate email from Microsoft Exchange), the Nokia push solution via Intellisync Mobile Suite from Nokia, and standard clients such as POP3, IMAP, and SMTP.
Concurrently, Verizon Wireless says that it will start to sell a new BlackBerry on September 17. The 8703e will run on Verizon's high-speed CDMA EV-DO 3G network and works with the BlackBerry Enterprise Server, Exchange, Lotus Notes and other email packages.
The 8703e launch comes just a week after RIM unveiled its new 8100 "Pearl" device, which the company is hoping will find it a new consumer audience beyond its enterprise base. (See RIM Polishes Its Pearl.)
Modal Arrivals: Vendors are using the CTIA show as a way to show off a raft of new devices, applications, and partnerships, intended to ease voice-over-WiFi and -- eventually -- fixed/mobile convergence services into the workplace.
UTStarcom Inc. (Nasdaq: UTSI) launched its new F3000 "portable WiFi handset" at the show. The device runs on the 2.4GHz band supporting 802.11b/g and supports a parcel of VOIP standards including SIP, SDP, RTP/RTCP and RFC 2833/inband DTMF. UTStarcom has also incorporated a search feature, allowing users to locate WiFi networks within range and store these profiles for later use.
Test startup Azimuth Systems Inc. is trying to improve the performance of the next generation of WiFi handsets with a new WLAN VOIP test suite. The software enables vendors to do power consumption testing and analyze voice quality, roaming performance, and battery life of wireless VOIP handsets under different motion and data traffic conditions. This should -- in time -- mean better performance for these phones in the field.
Looking even further ahead, Airvana Inc. and Tatara Systems Inc. have inked a deal to develop a kit that will allow operators to offer more converged services to business and consumer customers in the future. The companies plan to combine gateway products to allow carriers to offer "WiFi, WiMAX, Bluetooth, and other IP-based" services to subscribers. The move could help CDMA operators that are looking to offer fixed/mobile convergence services in the future, since the startup has been instrumental in providing faster CDMA EV-DO hardware to its tech partners in the U.S. and beyond.
Skype Gets Mo' Mobile: Startup VoxLib Corp. unveiled a new way to get Skype VOIP services on your cellphone yesterday at the Fall VON show in Boston. The system doesn't need any new cellphone software or devices to work its VOIP-over-IM voodoo. Much like early push email systems, the VoxLib system just requires that the user leaves their Skype account active on their desktop computer to achieve a connection. That way, users can call into their Skype account on the desktop and connect with anyone online at that time, as well checking messages and to be notified of any new messages or missed calls via SMS.
Stéphane Marceau. President and CEO, is convinced that the future of communications lies with IM-based talk communities such as Skype. He plans to support other IM talk applications in the future -- such as AOL AIM, Yahoo Voice, or GoogleTalk, but he started with Skype because it is "by far the most popular."
— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung