The Almanac

An eclectic collection of research and resources.

Force Wireless Carriers to Unlock Smart Phones

Planning to purchase smart phones—the ones with a calendar, e-mail and price tags of $300 to $500? Buyer beware: Carriers have placed locks on the phones that prevent them from being used on other carrier networks—the ultimate in vendor lock-in.

The locking mechanism is built into the phone's firmware, according to Meta Group Inc. Carriers generally refuse to unlock the phone because they want to limit customer churn.

"Enterprises exploring the purchase of high-end smart devices should force terms into the contract that require the carrier to unlock the phones," says Jack Gold, a Meta Group analyst. "This is important because many high-end feature phones are expensive and could have a life of more than three years—longer than most carrier contract terms."

Broadband in the Air

Feeling out of touch on that cross-country or international flight? The Boeing Co. has announced pricing for its Connexion high-speed in-flight Internet service, which begins this spring on Lufthansa flights, followed by SAS, Japan Airlines, Korean Air Lines and others. The broadband service has metered pricing as well as flat-rate fees: $14.95 for flights less than three hours, $19.94 for flights between three and six hours, and $29.95 for flights more than six hours.

Broadband in the Air
However, the aggregate numbers mask the fact that there are three types of wireless business users, and each type has different carrier preferences, The Yankee Group reports:

  • Corporate-liable subscribers, whose accounts are directly tied to and paid for by the employer. Leader: Nextel Communications Inc.
  • Corporate-sponsored users, who fall under the corporate account but are individually liable for the charges. Leader: Verizon Wireless (Sprint PCS Group is relatively strong too.)
  • "Prosumers," or professional consumers, who sign their own carrier contracts but put some or all of the costs on their corporate expense accounts. Leader: Verizon Wireless

Wireless PDA Updates Improve Hospital Service

Hospital patients change rooms and units—and nurses change shifts—which makes it hard to provide what hospitals call "continuity of care" and other industries call customer service. But Sacred Heart Hospital in Pensacola, Fla., is using a wireless system to give nurses much more information about each patient's medical needs and customer satisfaction.

As nurses make their rounds, they survey the patients about their preferences and concerns, and they record information on handheld devices or tablets. The information ranges from medications and allergies to emotional needs, and even whether the patient prefers tea or coffee or is a vegetarian, says Joana Adams, administrative director of patient care services. The data is synchronized with a central database so that the next shift of nurses "will see all of the issues from the previous shift or unit," she says.

The data can also pinpoint problems, such as a high number of complaints on one floor, and alert staff members about a patient who's had a particularly bad experience "so that we don't repeat that bad experience," Adams says.

The system was built by Pensacola-based Cogon Systems Inc., based on mobile database and synchronization technologies from iAnywhere Solutions, a unit of Sybase Inc.


Police officers in Tyler, Texas, will store crime-scene video on hard drives instead of video tape.

Police officers in Tyler, Texas, will store crime-scene video on hard drives instead of video tape.

Image Credit: Mitch Kezar / Getty Images

Texas Cops to Get Digital Video System

A Texas police department plans to implement a digital video system and combine it with wireless hot-spot technology to allow police officers to broadcast video live from their patrol cars to headquarters. The system, developed by Coban Research and Technologies Inc. in Stafford, Texas, is being tested by the police department in Tyler, Texas (population 90,000), about 90 miles east of Dallas.

"Our current analog video cameras and computer systems are outdated," says police chief Gary Swindle.

The cutting-edge system, which IBM Global Services will begin installing this month, is expected to save the police department $50,000 each year compared with the analog system.

The digital video system will deliver better image quality, anti-tampering features and metadata for faster searching. The department has about 6,000 analog tapes in circulation. "With this system, the tapes go away. The video is stored in hard drives in the cruisers, and later on our servers. There's a tremendous labor savings there," Swindle says.

— Juan Carlos Perez, IDG News Service


Breakdown of the Wireless Business User

Top wireless carriers used by business customers:

Verizon Wireless 22.4%
Nextel Communications 20.3%
AT&T Wireless 16.3%
Sprint PCS 13.0%
Cingular 12.6%
Base: Survey of 107,000 U.S. wireless subscribers in December 2003

Source: The Yankee Group, Boston

Special Report

The Untethered Worker

Stories in this report:

Copyright © 2004 IDG Communications, Inc.

7 inconvenient truths about the hybrid work trend
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