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Sprint Providing Mobile Web Service to Ford

Under an agreement with Sprint, Ford will provide an in-dashboard PC with Internet connectivity using Sprint's Nationwide Mobile Broadband Network in its 2009 F-series and E-series vehicles within a few weeks. Later this year, Ford Transit Connect vehicles will also have the service.

"This solution suite will empower organizations to continue to work hard while also working smart," said Keith Dardis, a Sprint regional vice president. "We will provide our mutual customers with a competitive edge, unparalleled productivity and cost savings, and the opportunity to do their part to 'drive green.'"

My first reaction when seeing this was, "Wow, Internet radio on the road!" However, the applications mentioned in the Sprint press release are all business related. Entertainment is not mentioned and it doesn't sound like the PC will be connected to the vehicle's sound system. The dashboard PC is expected to cost about $1,200. Monthly Internet access will cost $49.99 per month.

As a side note, watch your monthly data usage if you use your mobile broadband connection for streaming video or audio. While Verizon dropped its prohibition on downloading video or audio and even VoIP, depending on the plan, the monthly bandwidth is limited to 50 MB, or for $20 more, 5 GB. Sprint's terms and conditions state Sprint reserves the right to "limit throughput speeds or the amount of data transferred; and to deny, terminate, modify or disconnect or suspend service if usage either exceeds (a.) 5GB/month in total, unless specified otherwise or (b) 300 MB/month while off-network roaming." In short, don't expect today's wireless Internet to replace TV and radio broadcasting!

Doug Lung is one of America's foremost authorities on broadcast RF technology. He has been with NBC since 1985 and is currently vice president of broadcast technology for NBC/Telemundo stations.