Nextel used to have a corner on the market with its unique walkie-talkie service, Direct Connect. But even now, with other carriers offering push-to-talk, Nextel is staying one step ahead. Mobile Enterprise recently caught up with Greg Santoro, VP of Internet and Wireless services for Nextel Communications, to findout what we can expect next from Nextel, and what plans it has for keeping the competition at its heels.
Mobile Enterprise: Please explain for our readers a little bit about Nextel’s enterprise strategy.
Greg Santoro: Our strategy is to serve business customers by listening to their needs. Our corporate customers have told us they need a reliable, secure network on which they can deploy a variety of mobile business applications, on a number of different devices, and do it in an easy and cost-effective manner. With those needs in mind, we created our Wireless Business Solutions (WBS) framework, which combines our nationwide network with the largest set of mobile solutions in the industry, all of which are backed by our number one–rated customer support. We can scale these solutions from simple workgroups to full enterprise deployments, and we can integrate them with corporate intranets and back-office systems to support the various demands of a mobile workforce.
ME: Nextel phones have long served as field force devices, especially with the push-to-talk walkie-talkie feature. Are there plans to push more into the sales force and traveling professional spaces?
GS: We recently launched our BlackBerry 7510, which is the only Blackberry equipped with a speakerphone and support for direct IP network access. We’re also the first to partner with Salesforce.com to deploy a unique set of hosted CRM and sales force management services specifically targeted to sales people on the go. Additionally, we have a wide array of handsets for the traveling professional.
ME: With 3G technologies finally being erected in the U.S. on a broad scale, how does Nextel plan to compete on the data side of things?
GS: No one comes close to touching our network, our services, our tools and our support when it comes to deploying wireless solutions, and we plan to continue to make business customers a priority and maintain our leadership in wireless data for the enterprise. In that regard, corporate customers don’t care if the network is 2G, 2.5G, 3G, or some other unintelligible acronym. What they care about is whether there is an application that meets their requirements, whether there are sales and support resources that understand the unique needs of their industry and whether there are tools to help them control deployment. Later this year we plan to begin the deployment of an upgrade to the network that will provide us with data speeds four times faster than our current speeds.
ME: Has number portability been a good or bad thing for the wireless industry in general and Nextel in particular?
GS: Wireless users’ actual behavior before number porting was available indicates that a new phone number is not a barrier to changing wireless providers. Now that wireless local number portability has been implemented and is rolling out nationwide, we have seen that demand for porting was much less than many industry experts predicted. Nextel has been a net winner of wireless local number portability, porting in more customers than ported out. We expect that trend to continue.