Ford Selects Sprint for In-Vehicle Wireless System
Sprint Corp. reported that Ford Motor Co. has selected the telecommunications company to be the wireless provider of Bluetooth phones and services for Ford’s Mobile-Ease Hands-Free Communication System, according to RCR Wireless News. The system is a dealer-installed option for select Ford, Lincoln and Mercury vehicles that uses Bluetooth technology to wirelessly integrate a customer’s mobile handset with the vehicle’s audio system to provide hands-free calling. Ford added that once installed, the vehicle’s audio system automatically mutes as calls are placed or received, and voice-recognition technology enables users to dial using voice commands. As part of the agreement, Ford customers that have Mobile-Ease installed in their vehicles will have access to exclusive offers on Sprint PCS handsets with built-in Bluetooth technology, which the carrier noted is currently limited to the Sony Ericsson T608. Interestingly, the T608 has seen limited availability after Sony Ericsson pulled its support of CDMA handsets in North America shortly before the handset was launched last summer. The handset is available through Ford’s Bluetooth phone Web site for $100 after rebates. A Sprint spokeswoman noted that the carrier plans to launch additional Bluetooth-enabled handsets later this year with rumors suggesting the next handset to be an LG model. Several automotive manufacturers, including BMW, Acura, and Chrysler, have introduced similar embedded Bluetooth systems.