For Verizon Wireless it's not about the network, it's about the services a carrier can provide on top of it.
That's why when Verizon executives unveiled the company's 2.5G wireless network--a faster network based on packetized data--on Jan. 28, they also touted a partnership with Accenture to provide hosted applications to the enterprise.
"Many carriers want to stay away from being labeled as 'the pipe,' " said Jim Smoak, director of enterprise and portal strategies for Verizon. "We would rather be perceived as a one-stop shop for services."
Smoak said the nonexclusive agreement with Accenture will provide a fully functional hosted solution the enterprise can use to provide wireless e-mail services as well as wireless access to corporate information and applications.
Verizon also is continuing to pursue partnerships that will provide solutions behind the firewall. "We are building alliances that ... will take care of virtually every enterprise wireless solution that is required," he said.
From Accenture's perspective, the emergence of 2.5G wireless services that will provide near and sometimes better than 56-Kbps speed data transfers that most mobile workers are accustomed to meant the time was right to launch its Mobile Services Bureau.
"We see core opportunities for solutions as wireless networks become more capable, particularly on the data service side, and as device costs go down," said Jack Dziak, an Accenture partner. "There is a growing addressable market for pushing corporate-based data and improving mobile processes."
Verizon is just one in a number of growing carriers looking to mobilize their networks. Bell South, part owner of Cingular Wireless, unveiled a deal with Air2Web to provide mobile applications from its data center, and Sprint is using its own internal resources to provide corporate e-mail and other solutions on its existing PCS network. Sprint expects to upgrade that network with 2.5G capabilities this summer.
Accenture's solution provides hosted e-mail as well as Web intranet and other mobile applications for the enterprise. Dziak said Accenture is addressing the security issue with two choices: a zero-footprint solution or an option that adds security behind the firewall.
Accenture has already deployed mobile solutions across a limited set of its own workers to prove its technology and security solutions to potential customers, said Dziak.
"We believe in eating our own dog food around here," he said, noting that Accenture's CIO would only approve such a rollout if he were completely comfortable with the security solution.
Verizon's next-generation network is currently available to East Coast customers in major cities from Virginia to Boston, as well as customers in Northern California and Salt Lake City. Dubbed the Express Network, Verizon expects the new service to reach more than half of its 29.4 million subscribers by the end of the year.
The technology will enable Verizon to offer packet-based data transfers of 40 Mbps to 50 Mbps with peaks up to 144 Mbps, the company said. Verizon is selling a Kyocera 2235 phone and a PC Card from Sierra Wireless to complement the service.