United Parcel Service and FedEx, two of the largest users of mobile wireless data services, have both decided to standardise globally on IP-based General Packet Radio Service (GPRS), the next-generation version of the European Global System for Mobile Communications (GMS) standard.
A representative of UPS said the company intends to standardise its mobile wireless tracking architecture on GPRS wherever it is available because it will, "minimise our wireless communications costs and expand value-added services to our customers".
UPS retrofitted 6,300 handheld devices used by its German drivers with GPRS modems this May and expects to have 11,000 GPRS handhelds in use in Western Europe by the end of the year.
The company has already started to reap benefits from the faster transmission times provided by the GPRS network in Germany. In the future the network, provided by T-Mobile, will support voice as well as data, global roaming, video telephony and real-time emergency services.
FedEx signed a five-year deal with AT&T Wireless Services in March to provide GPRS service for its 40,000 US-based couriers. "We selected AT&T Wireless, because they have a global presence with wireless GPRS and GSM and that allows us to have a single technology worldwide," Ken Pasley, FedEx's director of wireless systems development, said. The company is currently testing the technology in Europe, he added.