Comdex Spring: Interactive paging looks hot

Get ready for interactive paging. It's going to be the next big wave.

That at least is the conviction of William Lenahan, President and CEO of BellSouth Wireless Data, who delivered a keynote address at this week's Comdex/Spring.

Lenahan pointed out that two-way messaging handily fills the gap between simple one-way pagers and a full desktop or notebook with Web browsing and e-mail capabilities. He also noted that 48 million users in North America have one-way messaging, although 73 percent of the messages require a response.

Lenahan's view was certainly supported on the show floor, as several large paging companies joined forces to work on future PDAs featuring two-way wireless messaging. On Monday some of the largest paging carriers and manufacturers announced the formation of the Personal Communicator Wireless Alliance. The primary goal of the group: to work with PDA manufacturers to embed Motorola's ReFLEX communications technology into a variety of handheld devices that provide hassle-free, two-way wireless messaging.

ReFLEX solutions allow narrowband PCS networks to provide better in-building penetration as well as significantly better coverage. Another advantage of the open standard ReFLEX technology is lower power consumption, which will allow future PDAs to remain on, awaiting e-mails and pages. Better yet, it will allow devices to work with it regardless of whether they are Palm OS, or Windows CE-based.

Motorola, Glenayre Technologies, AirTouch Paging, Arch Communications Group, Conxus, Metrocall, Mobilecomm, PageMart Wireless, PageNet, SkyTel and TSR Wireless have signed up as initial members of the alliance.

ReFLEX technology is currently available, and each carrier in the alliance has nationwide PCS licenses and has either completed construction or has plans under way.

Officials were unable to comment on rollout plans, general pricing or availability.

Take me to the Comdex Spring special.


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