<< VoiceStream head Stanton was on CNBC yesterday, said his company was a "consumer-oriented" GSM wireless phone company, as compared with more "business-oriented" operators like Sprint PCS. >>
You might find the excerpt from this article about VoiceStream Data Services interesting particularly since these services have been available since February 1996 in the US.
The article in its entirety is available at Intel's GSM Data site:
> Wireless in Seattle
While Pacific Bell covers California's major coastal cities – San Diego, Los Angeles, and San Francisco, VoiceStream provides coverage for their West Coast cousins farther north – Portland and Seattle, in addition to coverage to 10 other western and southwestern states. We had already been using GSM data in Portland for over a year, so decided to test their data and fax services elsewhere. After lobbying unsuccessfully for Hawaii (one of the other states covered by VoiceStream), we settled for the greater Seattle area.
We performed the data tests upon arriving at the Sea-Tac Airport, and again in Seattle proper, all with a successful outcome. Coverage and signal strength were good everywhere we went, though VoiceStream had not yet launched services in Seattle at the time.
The VoiceStream home office is located just east of Seattle in Bellevue, Washington. Here we met with Mike Raap, VoiceStream's Wireless Data Manager and member of the GSM Alliance Services group. Mike is a long-time advocate of wireless data and likes to point out that VoiceStream has been providing data since day one. He emphasized that a successful data market takes more than making it available.
There are three steps. First, lower the barrier for customers to actually use the data services. For this reason, VoiceStream decided to make data available as part of all of their rate plans, so that voice customers can start using data at any time, without switching to a different plan or requiring additional activation. Part of that barrier has been an initial investment in hardware and software to make data work with their phone and PC; this typically runs $100 and up. Now that handsets will soon be available that are data-ready out of the box—i.e., no cable, card, or software to buy, this eliminates the up-front cost of using data.
The second step to a successful data market is to provide adequate support to customers using data. Hence, VoiceStream now provides a 1-800 number that takes you directly to experts in wireless data and PCs.
The third step, according to Mike, is to lower the barrier for customers to purchase data products. How do I find out what data products are out there? How do I know if they'll work together? Where can I find someone who understands data to help me? Mike admits this is still a problem today, but plans are underway to provide online buyers other solutions to allow one-stop shopping for data products. <
- Eric -