Sprint is also developing a network-based IP VPN service that will offer a centralized approach to managing VPNs and faster implementation times. Rather than installing VPN equipment on customer premises, as Sprint does now, network-based VPNs are enabled by service providers through equipment in the carrier network. Currently Broadwing and Savvis are offering network-based VPN services.
Sprint customers will also be able to integrate voice over their IP VPN. Sprint will soon test Lucent voice-over-IP gear based on an agreement the two companies signed early this month.
Although Sprint has fallen behind with some of its wireline services, it is staying ahead of the game in wireless.
The company will start its 3G upgrades later this year, says Paul Reddick, a vice president at Sprint PCS. The wireless group is upgrading its network with Code Division Multiple Access 2000 channel cards that will be installed throughout the carrier's network. The upgrade will increase wireless data transmission speeds from 14.4K bit/sec to 144K bit/sec.
While that's obviously a huge improvement, 144K bit/sec is generally referred to as 2.5G (generation two-and-a-half), says Elliot Hamilton, senior vice president at consulting firm Strategis Group. Sprint will need to hit the 3G (384K bit/sec) mark, he says.
Sprint is also readying its network to improve wireless application support. Today users can work with Sprint to make their application servers running Siebel customer relationship management software accessible via the Sprint PCS network.
Customers can also access corporate Lotus and Microsoft e-mail applications through deals Sprint PCS has with Lotus and Wireless Knowledge.
But Sprint plans to offer wireless application hosting in the near future. The company is in the process of integrating its wireless network with its IP network and data centers, Reddick says.
Customers will be able to host high-end applications at Sprint's data centters. Sprint PCS is using Openwave's UP.Link Servers to communicate between its wireless and IP networks, Reddick says.
By year-end, Sprint says it will offer business users several application hosting options, but would not go into software details.
Reddick says the offering will include messaging, enterprise applications and standard wireless Web content such as a stock ticker information.
If Sprint actually rolls out a suite of enterprise application hosting services that both wireless and wireline users can securely access, the company will be ahead of competitors. AT&T has the national wireless network to offer business users the same type of integration but has clearly stated it does not plan to offer application hosting services.
And WorldCom doesn't offer either. WorldCom resells wireless services from companies such as Sprint PCS and is not offering application hosting services.