Sprint Sees Next Generation in CDMA

PCS Vision network first in U.S. with advanced data services.

October 7, 2002

3 Min Read
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CDMA2000 connectivity requires Sprint's existing customers to upgrade their hardware for compatibility. Sprint is offering five new phones, two PDA/phones (a Palm-powered Handspring Treo and a Pocket PC-powered Toshiba) and two PC Card solutions for connecting laptops to the CDMA2000 network. All the CDMA2000-capable devices from Sprint feature color displays, but not all the devices offer the same PCS Vision services from Sprint. Sprint also plans to ship a CDMA2000-compatible CompactFlash card in the fourth quarter.

Because I'm a longtime Palm user, I asked Sprint to send the Treo 300. Earlier this year I tested Handspring's Treo 180 ("Handspring's Treo 180 Is All Keyed Up"), which is nearly identical to the 300. The 300 has the same form factor as the 180 and shares most of the same features, except that the 300 sports an appealing color screen and a lighted Lilliputian thumb keyboard. Additionally, this is the first Treo available for Sprint's PCS network. Most of Sprint's PCS Vision phones are dual band, but the Treo is a single-band phone, so roaming to a GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications) digital or analog service won't be possible.

PCS Vision offers seven services to customers--games, messaging, PCS Business Connection, pictures, ringers, screen savers and Web connectivity. The color Web browsing and picture features are getting the most airtime on Sprint's TV ads, but the PCS Business Connection service will interest business customers, as it provides Microsoft Exchange, Lotus Notes and IMAP/POP mail users with real-time access to their inboxes, and Exchange and Notes users with access to the corporate directory, personal contacts, calendar items and tasks.

PCS Business Connection comes in two flavors--enterprise and personal. The enterprise edition is an outsourced solution that can be managed by one of your own IT administrators. Sprint's server connects to your Lotus Domino or Microsoft Exchange server on behalf of the users you've subscribed and delivers new mail directly to their PCS devices any time they're on the PCS network. Your users can read mail, reply to senders and delete messages all from the comfort of their own phones. Also, you never have to deal with the mail twice--the changes you make to the inbox on your phone are reflected directly on your Notes or Exchange inbox.

I tested the PCS Business Connection Personal Edition against my corporate IMAP-based mail system and found the service quite useful, aside from some glitches that Sprint assures me have been patched. Setup is simple: Install the PCS Business Connection application on your desktop at work. That application connects to your mail server and forwards new mail to Sprint's network on your behalf.

Sprint's network takes care of getting the messages to your phone. PCS Vision provides "always on" service, meaning your phone periodically checks for new messages and notifies you when they've arrived (beware: your battery will run down quickly if the phone is configured to check for messages often).

PCS Vision plans start at $50 per month, which includes 4,000 phone minutes and 2 MB of data. Laptop plans start at $40 per month, which includes 20 MB of data.

If you plan to use a PDA/phone, Sprint recommends purchasing a plan that includes 8 MB of data per month and 6,500 voice minutes for $85 per month. Sprint charges extra for data transfers in excess of your contracted amount.

Ron Anderson is Network Computing's lab director. Write to him at [email protected].

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