TMA: Mobile technology is ready to roll out

Delegates at this week's TMA telecoms show in Brighton have been urged to begin their mobile rollouts now and not wait for the...

Delegates at this week's TMA telecoms show in Brighton have been urged to begin their mobile rollouts now and not wait for the arrival of 3G.

Declan Lonergan, European director of wireless research and consulting at the Yankee Group, said: "For what corporate users need to do now, the availability of a mature GPRS service is good enough."

Lonergan urged users to consider the existing mobile infrastructure, which he said was good enough for today's mobile applications.

Replying to questions from users in the audience who suggested that the slow take-up of wireless in the business sector is down to users waiting to see what 3G will bring, Lonergan said: "If users think they can't use what's already out there, they probably haven't planned properly."

Even the existing GSM network was appropriate for some applications, Kary Warnerman, Ericsson Enterprise vice-president of business development, said. "When 3G arrives, the GPRS networks, and even the GSM ones, will still be around for some time to come and businesses will not lose out from adopting wireless now.

The take-up of mobile computing to date has largely been generated by companies providing their staff with laptop PCs equipped with GPRS wireless cards that can download data at around 30Kbps.

Computacenter used TMA to explain how it had installed such a package to a company with 2,000 field engineers connected to the Orange network. Rob Coyne, Computacenter enterprise business director, said the company concerned had spent £8m on the project and was now saving £36m a year as a result.

One potential hurdle preventing widespread adoption of wireless technology was the confusion caused by personal digital assistants (PDAs). One delegate said many such devices were not geared up to intensive mobile work as they only offered small screens, low memory, and, in some cases, unfamiliar operating systems.

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