Are you focused on the ‘G’ of your wireless network? For all intents and purposes, you are probably not—nor should you be. That little task is left up to the network providers, which are touting all the powerful capabilities of their 3G and 4G networks. As a contractor, you just want to know that as your need for high-speed data increases at the jobsite, your network is up for the challenge.
Knowing this, the national carriers are focusing strongly on delivering better services to construction via their network. Whether it is through targeted channel partners or new products and services, the carriers have construction on their minds these days.
“We understand that our customer’s businesses have evolved based on their specific industry niche and how they go to market. Thus we can’t assume that one solution or approach will fit the needs of all of our construction customer’s needs,” says Susan Fitzsimmons, senior market manager, AEC Industry Solutions, AT&T, www.att.com, Dallas, Texas. “This is particularly true in the construction industry where, for example, some general contractors self-perform various subcontracting activities and others may have their own equipment rental yards.”
AT&T has an industry solutions practice that provides free consultative services for AEC. According to Fitzsimmons, these subject matter experts conduct strategy workshops with contractors to help them develop “an appropriate and forward-thinking approach to both wireless and connected strategies.”
As technologies continue to change, such services can provide a great resource for contractors to learn about emerging devices and services. To compliment such a strategy, AT&T continues to build a solid stable of construction-specific applications that deliver functionality around such actions as mobile asset management, time tracking, and asset management, to name a few. Such applications are provided via partners like Telenav, www.telenav.com, Sunnyvale, Calif., and Xora, www.xora.com, Mountain View, Calif., to name a few.
Sprint, www.sprint.com, Overland Park, Kan., the carrier that made the phrase “push to talk” famous in this market, is working on the next generation of that concept. Coming in the fourth quarter, Sprint will offer an initial set of handsets packed with features designed for workgroups that rely on push-to-talk, establishing a new brand called Sprint Direct Connect.
The whole idea behind the initiative, says Sprint, is delivering higher bandwidth capacity to meet the growing demand for data from customers. Right in line with the demands of the typical construction jobsite, the initial portfolio will involve rugged devices from the likes of Motorola Mobility and Kyocera with plans for more devices in 2012.
Along with the typical capabilities available on current Sprint push-to-talk phones, these devices will include next-generation push-to-talk applications and functionality, such as high-speed data access, high-resolution cameras, and Bluetooth.
A deeper look at Sprint’s strategy shows the Spring Direct Connect service comes from the company’s Network Vision strategy. Announced late last year, Network Vision consolidates multiple network technologies into one network.
Speaking particularly to the network capabilities of the push-to-talk coverage, Sprint says the footprint is planned to increase to nearly 2.7 million square miles, a clear upgrade from the prevous iDEN network’s 908,370 square miles.
The idea behind this upgrade is to keep workers in the field and leverage all the latest and greatest when it comes to connected devices and services.
“The ability to manage assets from a worker’s handheld device keeps them in the field and on the job, not in the construction trailer,” says Linda Eastridge-Jordan, industry marketing manager, Sprint. “Knowing where assets are deployed or where materials are located at all times improves productivity and supports on-time job completion initiatives. Allowing workers to clock-in and clock-out from their phones that in turn feed backend time and payroll systems, reduces paperwork and errors, again improving productivity and reducing wasted time in the field as well.”