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Optus launches wireless access for road warriors
01 Mar 2000

Cable & Wireless Optus today launched a wireless communications service that will revolutionise offsite sales and service work practices.

Designed for sales forces and other executives who work on location, the wireless service allows staff to send and retrieve data from outside the office at an affordable price.

Called Optus Retriever, the service uses a handheld computer and a GSM mobile phone. The computer features purpose-built digital forms designed for instant product stocktakes, ordering and other sales based activities.

Laptops promised portability and easy access but have proved to be too bulky, expensive or unreliable for connecting to the office from the field. Optus Retriever combines the latest handheld computer and wireless mobile technology to deliver effective remote access.

"While there has been a revolution in equipping employees to work from home - little has been done to equip staff to work more effectively in the field," said John Filmer, Director Enterprise, Cable & Wireless Optus.

"At last, sales and service workers can throw their laptops and cables away because Optus Retriever is essentially a data-linked paperless pad which will keep them on the road and in the customer's office where they belong," Mr Filmer said.

Developed by Australian wireless application firm, Retriever Communications, Optus Retriever represents an innovative partnership between the software developer and Cable & Wireless Optus.

Mary Brittain-White, Managing Director and founder of Retriever Communications said, "We estimate that Australian businesses can reduce their field support administration costs by 40 per cent a year with savings on double entry, incorrect data, miscommunication and unnecessary travel."

"With Optus Retriever, businesses can increase productivity, respond faster to work and sales requests, improve cash flow through shorter billing cycles and manage their staff better," she said.

"Optus Retriever is ideal for businesses that don't want to spend a fortune on developing their own field sales system. With this product they get a tailor-made IT solution, access to the latest technology plus training and ongoing support for a relatively low cost."

Optus Retriever is designed for organisations with 30 or more employees working in the field. It is tailored to meet the needs of each specific business, so set-up costs will vary. Once implemented, the price is based on a subscription of $140 per month, per user, plus call costs. The service is available on Optus' Mobile Digital (GSM) network and billed on an Optus mobile digital account.

For more information:
Louise Ingram
Cable & Wireless Optus
Phone: (02) 9342 5042


Optus Retriever - How it works

Optus Retriever is a tailored mobile application solution designed for staff who need to access data and conduct business while out in the field.

Optus Retriever uses the Optus Mobile Digital (GSM) network to transfer data from a handheld computer via mobile phone to a server. The data is then transferred via the Optus' Private Internet to the customer.

Optus Retriever uses UDI (Unrestricted Digital Interface) which allows a digital to digital connection between the servers and the GSM network. This reduces the set-up time of a data call by approximately 20 seconds and reduces call costs.

Because Optus Retriever uses an 'occasionally connected' model, the service has been designed to keep track of changing data. The service recognises differences in data on the field devices and the data being sent to these devices and only transmits the changes. This accurately updates records while at the same time reducing the length of the connection.

Compatible Technology

Optus Retriever will work on any pen-based handheld computer using Windows CE as an operating system. Compatible devices include; Vadem Clio 1050, Sharp PV5000, Cassiopeia E100 and E105, Hewlett Packard Journada 680, Texlon 960M and PTC2124 and the Symbol PPT2700.

Compatible mobile phone handsets include; the Nokia 7110, the Ericsson 600 and 700 series with DI27 attachment and the Ericsson SH888.

Optus Retriever can be integrated with standard computer applications and email. This makes it easy to use with an organisation's existing applications.

Target Markets

Optus Retriever features digital forms customised to the specific needs of each business. Optus Retriever is targeted at the service, sales and healthcare sectors with the development of three types of 'digital pads' including:

Servicepad - designed for use by maintenance and customer service workers. It can be used to send and receive work orders, reference service manuals, view records of previous site visits and capture parts requests.

Salespad - created to lessen the time sales representatives take doing paperwork, increasing their accuracy and allowing them to focus on the customer. Salespad helps them complete quotes, orders or invoices and update customer records on the spot.

Healthpad - developed especially for the 'health in the home' industry where nursing staff are on the road visiting patients. Healthpad allows nurses to provide a better quality of care by helping them to check a patient's history and specific requirements, update records and provide detailed patient visit reports quickly.