Panel Offers Tips for Riding the Mobile Data Wave

Wireless services present channel partners with new revenue opportunities as well as the ability to offer a broader slate of services. During todays New Business Opportunities session Mobility Marketplace: Wireless on Wheels, three panelists will discuss the benefits of getting unplugged.

Panelist John Horn, national director for the VAR Channel at wireless carrier T-Mobile, notes data now is reaching critical mass in wireless as it did on the wireline network a few years ago. Thats because more businesses are looking at how data mobility can make them more productive, he says.

By adding wireless services, adds Horn, agents can ride the new data wireless wave and create turnkey solutions for their business customers. T-Mobile provides training and certification for the channel, he says. And we pay much more aggressively than they would in a wireline data aspect.

For T-Mobile, wireless includes not only cellular voice and data services, but also services based on Wi-Fi, an area in which T-Mobile is an industry leader.

Wireline had been a stable source of revenue for channel, but now demand is changing and wireless demand is on the upswing, says panelist Kevin Packingham, who is Sprints director of wireless marketing.

He says its more important than ever for channel partners to offer multiple solutions to their customers. The sale of wireless data solutions through channels is new but growing, says Packingham. It used to be the majority of most solutions were provided by the carriers, just because they were very horizontal like e-mail, he says. By allowing channels to create and sell solutions, they can target specific markets we would never be able to target.

For instance, he says, a channel partner could increase the value of wireless data connectivity by developing or offering specialized support for pseudo-horizontal applications like CRM

and sales force automation. Or, he adds, they could offer a robust set of applications focused on verticals like wirelessly-

enabled real estate agents or applications targeted at the public safety community.

But channel partners should think more broadly than just cellular and Wi-Fi in considering the mobile data opportunities, says panelist Mitch McCoy, senior director of marketing with master agent American Wireless, which is the largest national authorized retailer for Nextel, and also sells solutions from Alltel, DISH Networks and Verizon.

There are also great opportunities in selling satellite-based

services like GPS and TV, he says.

For example, channel partnerS can sell GPS services to any business that needs to track human or other assets, he says. A tow truck company or a plumber could use GPS to keep tabs on their trucks or employees, he says,

noting just two of many examples of how GPS can be used.

Satellite TV and radio can also help channel partners build revenue both on the residential and business side, he adds. The satellite TV has some pretty hefty commissions $300 to $350 on the activation, he says.

Of course, in addition to satellite services, American Wireless also offers cellular services. McCoy says top data applications in that vein include mobile office applications based on Blackberry, Palm Trio and other PDA/smart phone devices; picture messaging; bar-code scanners; and point-of-sale applications.

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