Etisalat joins the push e-mail race

Etisalat will deliver its own push e-mail solution early next year, a move that cranks up competition in the Middle Ea- st’s business mobility space.

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By  Chris Whyatt Published  November 13, 2005

Etisalat will deliver its own push e-mail solution early next year, a move that cranks up competition in the Middle Ea- st’s business mobility space. The UAE telco is already using its ‘E-mail on the Move’ sol-ution internally, and will make it available to both corporate and mass market customers in the first quarter of next year, Khalifa Al Forah, Etisalat’s mobile systems manager, told IT Weekly in an exclusive interview. Installing ‘E-mail on the Move’ — as with most push e-mail solutions — will enable e-mails to be ‘pushed’ remotely through back-office servers, such as Office Exchange or Lotus Notes, meaning a mobile workforce of corporate end users can send and receive e-mails on their smartphones or PDAs, as well as accessing attachments and calendar applications. In an ambitious move, Etisalat is making the service work acr-oss a variety of devices from different vendors, giving it the potential to reach more users than a solution that is tied into only one manufacturer’s handset. Development is now close to completion, with Etisalat in the process of finalising integration of the technology platform with its technology partner. Al Forah declined to name the technology partner, saying it will be announced later this year. The telco clearly believes the solution will be a great success: “Who today doesn’t need to be in direct connection with their e-mail?” Al Forah asked. E-mail on the Move is a mobile application mainly used to enhance employees’ productivity in corporate environments, he claimed. “The benefits are massive. It will add huge value to the mark- et, since e-mail is one of the most required features of a workforce. That’s why it deserves most of our focus and attention,” Al Forah added. He revealed that Etisalat employees are already using the solution ‘with great success’. Etisalat first disclosed its intention of launching a push e-mail service at this year’s Gitex show, where it successfully trialed the product with a number of corporate customers. Dubai-based handheld firm i-mate has been working with Etisalat on how it can best sell push e-mail as a commercial service in the Middle East. “This is an interesting proposition for Etisalat,” said John Williamson, vice president of technology at i-mate, who said that Etisalat providing push e-mail to any type of [GPRS or 3G enabled] mobile phone would be an “audacious move”. The operator is one of a number of telcos and vendors now bringing push e-mail solutions to the Middle East. For instance, handset giant Nokia is now piloting its own push e-mail product, which it said will be available across the region. Joe Devassy, sales manager for Nokia MENA, said it was currently piloting the solution — which works through the Nokia Business Centre — with at least 20 ‘significant’ Middle East enterprises. “We are happy with the fact that so many companies are interested,” he said, claiming Nokia’s solution provides enterprise IT managers with full administrative security and control because it sits within their domain (behind the firewall), unlike with an operator-controlled service. “It also has lower costs because you have perpetual licensing; you don’t have to pay an operator on a monthly basis,” he said. Etisalat would not be drawn on licensing or subscription details, except for Al Forah to say its solution will be very competitively priced. This month Jordan cellular operator MobileCom announced it will use Ericsson’s push e-mail solution to provide the mobile e-mail service to its users, and Bahraini telco MTC and Kuwait’s Wataniya have partnered with Smartner to provide push e-mail to their users.

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