Ford Selects Sprint PCS

Ford has selected Sprint to be the preferred wireless vendor for its Bluetooth-enabled in-car communications accessories. Ford calls the Radio-integrated hands-free system “Mobile-Ease”, and will sell Sprint-ready Bluetooth phones and service to connect Mobile-Ease to the network. This is somewhat surprising, since US CDMA carriers have been the most Bluetooth-resistant entities worldwide. Concerned with becoming a “dumb pipe” when Bluetooth is enabled on their phones, the carriers have all but shunned the technology. Verizon recently offered a Motorola Bluetooth terminal, but crippled the functionality of Bluetooth, limiting it to headset-only use. I would speculate that this is the type of limited-functionality that Sprint will enable on phones sold with Ford. That would be a shame when there are ample systems in a car that could benefit greatly from a Bluetooth data connection through the phone: navigation, maintenance, weather, traffic warnings, and TiVo-like radio content all come to mind. Nevertheless, if the Ford deal gets Sprint to offer more Bluetooth enabled phones, I’m all for it. I like the Sprint PCS Vision data service, and I’d love to see Bluetooth alongside. Here’s advice for all carriers: don’t be afraid of, or cripple Bluetooth. Let the data flow through. Let customers do what they want with it, and then charge us for it. That’s a good deal for everyone.

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