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Sprint, Novatel Intro 3G Wireless Payments

Shrugging off questions about the future of 3G technology, Sprint and Novatel Wireless unveiled a wireless 3G payment processing system for the enterprise market.

In a three-way deal with Commerciant, the wireless carriers are rolling out a new payment system called MobileScape. They are positioning it with vertical markets such as commercial and residential contractors, and transportation companies, the companies said.

Even as many continue to question the viability of heavy investment in third-generation voice networks amid compatibility issues with networking with Wi-Fi , Sprint, Novatel and Commerciant are pushing ahead with MobileScape as a platform that is easily integrated as a wireless business process application and payment processing systems for use by mobile workforces.

MobileScape is equipped with the MobileScape M2 handheld device, signature capture capabilities, an integrated printer, encryption security and a Web-based interface called POSware.

The MobileScape M2 handheld device has been integrated with Novatel's Expedite C201 CDMA2000 1X Wireless Embedded Modem and is designed to run on Sprint's PCS network, which was upgraded to 3G 1X last summer.

Specifically, the 3G payment platform would allow mobile workforces to use an all-in-one wireless payment and business process platform in real-time.

For Sprint, the MobileScape deal is a key part of its strategy to push ahead with its 3G rollout, which promises to be the technological link to bring true data capabilities to the mobile arena.

Sprint's new all-CDMA network is far slower than the 2 Mbps speeds that the industry had touted since the concept of 3G was first conceived in the early '90s but it promises improved speed, peaking at 144 kbps, with average user speeds of 50 to 70 kbps.

At last month's CTIA Wireless trade show in New Orleans, Sprint unveiled new enterprise-focused devices running Microsoft's Windows Pocket PC operating system for smart phones.

That PCS Telemetry services allow machine-to-machine data transfer over Sprint's 3G packet-capable network. The services target business users looking to gather and distribute information across a range of applications, including fleet management, wireless point of sale transactions, and utility service applications.