The company offers a variety of optional services, including SkyTel Central Messaging, which lets employees use a single number to page each other. The service also tracks when messages are read and provides replies. SkyTel fax-to-email gateways let users send faxes over the Internet and avoid transmission costs billed by telephone companies.
In addition to offering SkyTel 2-Way, Jackson, MS-based Mtel will incorporate a new over-the-air protocol onto its international wireless messaging network, which Motorola introduced in October. This enhancement will allow the paging and messaging company to offer more services, increase spectrum efficiency and enable it to eventually provide intercarrier roaming similar to that used by cellular companies.
Mtel's mainstay, the paging service that began life as National Satellite Paging, provides the bulk of the company's revenue. This service has helped to keep the company afloat during its difficult early years.
A subscriber to the service dials a toll-free number, punches in an identification code and a message is sent via a Westar IV communications satellite, which delivers it to a tiny 2 1/2-ounce pager that fits into a person's pocket. The pager can receive numeric text messages, operator-assisted text messaging and personalized messages sent by an interactive voice response system or from a PC and modem running free SkyTel Access software for Hewlett-Packard LX palm-top computers.
The system is particularly valuable in emergency situations, such as natural disasters, said Clifford Bean, an analyst with Arthur D. Little Inc. He expects that intercity paging will become a $1 billion industry in the mid-1990s, fueled by subscribers who travel to other cities for work or vacation.