Symbol adds wireless WAN to PDAs

Gives handheld computers the power to access the Internet from the great outdoors

Symbol Technologies announced plans Tuesday to integrate wireless wide area network (WAN) capabilities into its line of mobile computing devices, which include the Palm OS-based SPT 1700, the Pocket PC-based PPT 2700 and the Windows CE-based PDT 7500.

The devices -- which also promise rugged durability, ergonomic design, Internet access and barcode scanning -- target vertical markets, such as sales and service automation, government, military and health care.

Symbol devices will run on GSM networks in Europe and CDPD networks in the United States.

A PDA with wireless WAN capability is able to access the Internet wherever there is adequate network coverage. However, data rates are slower than when using a wired modem.

Research group Gartner predicted in May that WAN traffic worldwide will increase between three and five-fold before 2005. Dell recently announced it was developing a range of wireless WAN notebooks.

Graeme Wearden contributed to this report.

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