The use of wireless data systems is growing exponentially, says a new survey from Gartner. Enterprises continue to invest more in wireless data although it hasn't yet become a top IT spending priority. Only eight percent of enterprises have fully deployed wireless e-mail, the application with the most interest; another 38 percent are implementing systems. Enterprises have paid less attention to heavy-duty applications (e.g., customer relationship management, enterprise resource planning and sales force automation), wireless Web access, and contacts and scheduling. However, enterprises are preparing for these functions eventually. For example, 90 percent of enterprises want to use wireless data services to connect smart phones, personal digital assistants or notebook PCs, which would be needed to support many of these higher capabilities. Few enterprises care about running data services for cell phones or pagers, which could handle messaging.

On balance, enterprises plan to spend more on voice service from the six major U.S. providers, and most think the carriers provide good or average service. However, 10 percent to 16 percent said their enterprises will likely change carriers due to poor quality while 31 percent to 62 percent said their enterprises were undecided. By far, coverage and network quality cause the most dissatisfaction, followed by price and customer service. Only 39.5 percent of respondents cited coverage as the source of their dissatisfaction with Verizon, compared with 71.4 percent for Sprint PCS.

Other findings include:

  • 17 percent of respondents said that in 2002, their enterprises will increase mobile and wireless spending by more than 10 percent from 2001.
  • 42 percent said they would spend 11 percent to 20 percent on top of their wireless voice budgets for data services.
  • AT&T Wireless received the highest overall satisfaction rating, with 57 percent rating it good or excellent, followed by Cingular (51.6 percent), Verizon (51.2 percent) and Sprint PCS (50.1 percent).
  • Coverage remained the biggest factor in choosing a service provider, with Verizon providing the highest satisfaction on coverage and Sprint PCS the lowest of six major carriers.

Gartner interviewed 122 business and information technology managers in the U.S. and Canada for the survey.

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