Customers will be able to access e-mail, web content and other services through mobile phones and hand-held devices. Commenting on the alliance, BT's director of strategy Andy Green said: "Our mutual goals are to meet the needs of those who need to communicate on the move, allowing them to be reachable and remain connected to vital information at all times."
Paul Cockerton, marketing manager for Symbian, believes it is good news for the industry, increasing the potential for mobile technology. "At the moment we are in a chicken and egg situation. We need content and access to mobile devices. Anything enabling business users to access intranets is good for companies making the devices," he said.
The number of cellular phones world-wide will top one billion by 2000, according to Nokia, and Cockerton believes the "untethered mobile community" is set to boom with more and more business users and consumers demanding access to the Internet on the move.
The BT/Microsoft services will initially allow access to e-mail, diary, contact lists and basic Web information through the Internet, plus access to Exchange-based corporate networks. Personalised services will be added over time. Data centres will be created to allow access from a range of devices including smart phones, four-line digital phones, pagers, Windows CE-based hand-held PCs and Windows 98 or NT based laptops.
Trials begin in the UK this spring, with services commercially available from early 2000.