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Thursday, August 12, 1999


Sprint offers to
connect Hawaii
to ‘Wireless Web’

The service is part
of a national rollout

From staff and wire reports

Tapa

Starting in September, Sprint Hawaii customers will have access to wireless Internet service through the company's Sprint PCS Wireless Web, which features simple, user-friendly wireless data, products and services.

Sprint Corp.,the No. 3 U.S. long-distance telephone company, said it will offer wireless World Wide Web access, as it looks to use the draw of the Internet to boost phone usage.

"There's going to be a big market for wireless data because of Hawaii's receptibility to wireless technology," said Myra Rabanal, Sprint Hawaii marketing manager.

The company's wireless network will eliminate the need for a laptop; instead customers can access their e-mail and Internet service exclusively through wireless phones. "You'll have mobility, and it's easy to use," said Rabanal.

Customers nationwide will be able to browse the Internet and exchange e-mail using a new Neopoint Inc. NP1000 "smartphone," a combination wireless phone and electronic organizer that will sell for $399. Older Sprint PCS phones also will be able to get the service, though some may need a software upgrade.

Forty-one percent of Hawaii households use wireless phones, compared with a national average of 25 percent, said Rabanal, who added that the high number of interisland and mainland business travelers should ensure success of the service in Hawaii. "People here are technologically savvy," she said.

Starting this fall, customers who spend at least $29.99 a month on Sprint PCS voice service will be able to add Web access for $9.99 a month, the company said.

Sprint PCS also will sell a kit to enable laptop users to connect to the Internet using wireless phones. The kit will cost $29.99 to $199.99, depending on when it's purchased and what service plan customers choose with it.

Wireless carriers are racing to add data services to their offerings, hoping to seize on the Internet's explosive growth and the increasing popularity of cell phones.

In May, national wireless carrier Nextel Communications Inc. got $600 million from Microsoft Corp. to help develop its Nextel Online service. Last month, Vodafone AirTouch Plc said its AirTouch Cellular unit will offer wireless Internet access in Seattle, Salt Lake City and Michigan.

Nationwide, Kansas City, Mo.-based Sprint serves 4 million customers. It began offering wireless service in Hawaii this January after acquiring Primeco Hawaii.



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