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RFI: Wireless Data Carriers

Service providers are investing billions of dollars in this new infrastructure--to a certain extent because they must to remain competitive--but many seem nervous about generating return on that investment, especially from enterprise customers. They're also concerned about system capacity, which is one reason they aren't pricing services more aggressively. Each is approaching the enterprise with its own twist, but uptake patterns are decidedly wait-and-see. Cellular carriers also are dipping their toes into the Wi-Fi hotspot market, where T-Mobile has made big waves, and even deploying next-generation technologies, like Nextel's Flarion trial in North Carolina (see "High-Speed Cruising in RTP,").

Enterprise IT pros have a lot of questions, both about the underlying technology and the role IT will play in promoting or discouraging the use of such services. Some carriers see IT as an obstacle to expanded use, so they work through business units to pitch the value proposition, looking to pressure IT from within. Avoid being cast in a defensive position--forward-looking IT managers know they must be prepared for wide area wireless. Failure to get ahead of the knowledge curve can lead to significant security, integration and support headaches.

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