Wireless data market poised to take off

The mobile data market is poised to take off early next year once both Vodafone and Telecom's so-called 2.5G cellular networks are running at full speed and the new devices are available, says Wireless Data Systems director Boris Bruges.

The mobile data market is poised to take off early next year once both Vodafone and Telecom's so-called 2.5G cellular networks are running at full speed and the new devices are available, says Wireless Data Systems (WDS) director Boris Bruges.

Bruges has been in the wireless data market for some time, offering products and services to the likes of transport companies that need telemetry and tracking products.

Primarily he uses trunk radio to connect mobile units with base, however the 2.5G services are an attractive alternative and many clients are interested in using them.

"There's a lot of talk and we've got one business where they've been mandated to use GPRS, but it's all a bit early yet."

GPRS is Vodafone's new network - Telecom is using a competing technology, CDMA. Both are in place at the moment but running at relatively slow speeds - the full speed roll out for both networks is due early next year.

"We're only just getting the GPRS devices - you can obviously use the phones but it's the modules that we need in our line of work."

WDS builds its own components and devices, typically black boxes for trucks, and Bruges says it is only now that the parts are becoming readily available for his engineers to get stuck in.

Bruges also says there's very little difference between demand for GPRS units and demand for CDMA.

"We've seen about an equal amount of interest in both - and there's still a lot of interest in trunk radio because it's a proven technology and it's slightly cheaper."

Bruges says Vodafone's decision to broaden its billing model is a welcome move. Vodafone originally offered only a relatively flat monthly access schedule, however that has now been extended to include a high-end corporate-user model as well as a very low end telemetry billing model. Telemetry users on the Vodafone Anytime plan pay $9.95 a month which includes the first 0.3MB with every additional 100 bytes charged at one cent. Telemetry data is typically related to accepting job assignments, confirming job completion and location and so on - it requires very little data to be sent back and forth. Jobz2Go is one such offering on Vodafone.

"We really don't need to be sending megabyte files back and forth," says Bruges. "We've got some contracts already that will go ahead whenever the system is ready so you'll probably see those in the first quarter of next year."

Bruges says the Jobz2Go system is ready to be used now and costs only $29.95 per user per month.

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