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About Mobile E-mail

This Mobilook guide helps cell phone users understand mobile e-mail. It describes what e-mail is and how to use it. Finally, it provides a guide for choosing a mobile e-mail service.

  1. Overview
  2. Equipment and Services You Need
  3. Mobile E-mail Calling Plans
  4. Using Personal E-mail
  5. Using Business E-mail
  6. Choosing a Mobile E-mail Service

1. Overview

Electronic mail, or e-mail, is a system for composing, sending and receiving messages on an electronic device, such as a computer, PDA or cell phone, and transmitting the messages via the Internet or other network to another electronic device for reading.

Mobile e-mail is e-mail that is sent or received on a mobile device.

E-mail can be exchanged simply and quickly among people anywhere in the world who have access to the Internet and an e-mail account.

Text or multimedia files can be attached to e-mails for viewing or saving by the recipient. Basic e-mail is written in plain text characters. Advanced e-mail is written in HTML (Web markup language) and can be formatted. For mobile e-mail, text format is preferred because the transmitted files are smaller.

E-mail is a great way to:

  • Stay in touch with friends and family, especially when living far apart. You can send photos and other information.
  • Announce details of an event, such as a meeting, party or game.
  • Correspond with coworkers or customers, especially when a written record of the correspondence is needed.

Mobile e-mail is a good way to:

  • Stay in touch with your regular e-mail while away from your desktop or laptop computer. For example, receiving confirmation of an event while you are out of the office or traveling.
  • Send updates or information from your location about the local situation. For example, highlights of a meeting, trade show or event.
  • Save time and make decisions sooner by not having return to or contact the office.

2. Equipment and Services You Need

An e-mail system requires a server program that runs on a computer and is connected to a network. There are several public programs operate for free on the Internet. They use popular e-mail server protocols such as SMTP, POP3, IMAP4 and MIME2. Your wireless service provider needs to provide a gateway to the e-mail server.

There are also proprietary enterprise e-mail server platforms, such as Microsoft Exchange/Outlook, IBM Lotus Domino and Novell Groupwise, that are operated by a company and integrated with a mobile e-mail platform such as BlackBerry Enterprise Server (by Research In Motion).

You act as an e-mail "client" (computer) which accesses the e-mail "server" (computer). As an e-mail client, you need the following equipment and services:

  • A mobile handset that runs a mobile e-mail client program. E-mail-enabled handsets usually come with the client software that works with a particular server software. Or you can download a third-party program.
  • An e-mail-enabled mobile phone running e-mail client software that is compatible with your e-mail platform.
  • Digital wireless service from your provider and at the location you want to send or receive an e-mail.
  • An account (calling plan) from a wireless service provider that supports access to the Internet and an e-mail server. Check which handsets the provider offers or buy a handset that is compatible.
  • An e-mail address from your wireless service providers, an e-mail providers (Yahoo, Hotmail, etc.) or an e-mail server (at your company or other Web server).

3. Mobile E-mail Calling Plans

Sending or receiving an e-mail is rated by the size of the message file that is transferred.

Most data (e-mail) calling plans offer a fixed amount of data transfer for a monthly fee. Additional megabytes of data transfer cost extra. The number of e-mails you can exchange within the data limit depends on the size of each message.

In addition to paying the data fees for downloading e-mail, you may also pay for air-time, long distance and roaming charges, if applicable.

Many data plans are combined with a voice calling plan. Be sure to get the voice minutes and data limits that you need and are within your budget.

4. Using Personal E-mail

Make sure you have the properly configured mobile e-mail equipment and services as described above.

To send an e-mail, first you compose an e-mail message, including any attachment files (if capable), using the e-mail software on your handset. Fill in the destination address with a valid e-mail address. Most people use the address book feature of their client software store and manage a list of names and e-mail addresses.

Once you have finished editing your message, press the "Send" key or button. Your handset will transmit the message to your carrier's network and on to your e-mail server which will send it to the recipient's e-mail server. Then the recipient can pickup their e-mail from their server.

You can send e-mails to multiple address by putting those names in the "cc" (copy to) list. This will simultaneously send the message to those addresses. It is the equivalent of the "c.c." (carbon copy) feature of typewriter-era printed correspondence.

The "blind carbon copy" or "bcc" feature sends your message to other selected addresses, but the "cc" (copy to) addresses do not know that these addresses are also recipients.

To receive e-mail, use the e-mail client software on your handset and select to "receive messages." The messages destined for your e-mail address and waiting on your e-mail server will be transmitted to your handset. After you have received the messages, you can select and read each message and then delete, reply or forward them.

5. Using Business E-mail

Using e-mail at the office is basically the same as using e-mail for personal use, except that some more organization and forethought is recommended.

Choose your subject lines ("Subject:" or "Regarding:") wisely. Be specific, so the subject contains the essence of the message. Do not write, "Hi," "News," or "Meeting." Write a subject line more meaningful such as, "Company ABC launched product B5" or "BigClient meeting moved to Thursday at 10:00 am" Your coworkers and recipients will understand the purpose and content of your messages more quickly and easily and appreciate your clearness helpfulness.

Reply using the "reply to all" feature sparingly and only if everyone on the distribution list really needs to know your response. Unnecessarily using the "reply to all" feature wastes a lot of time of many employees, especially in large organizations.

Be careful what you write and to whom you send it. What are the potential consequences if your message is received or read by an unintended person, such as your boss, competitor, or the police or public. Avoid grief, embarrassment or headache by wisely managing your message distribution

Your marketing or legal department might have some guidelines about what to write or not to write and to whom to send or not to send messages.

Blackberry PIN-to-PIN messaging – allows users to bypass conventional e-mail systems and send messages directly to a personal identification number. Popular in the financial services industry, PIN-messaging is private because if a message is deleted before the Blackberry is put back in its cradle, it will not be downloaded to the computer server. The lack of a message record might be against company policy or reporting laws.

Tip for using e-mail efficiently – To help reduce a stuffed e-mail in-box, try to handle each e-mail only once. Read it and make a decision: Delete it or respond to it immediately. The next best way is to handle each message only twice, say by responding to or deleting it by the end of the day.

Tip for using e-mail efficiently – Don't print e-mails for later reading. It wastes time and paper. And it is a very awkward way to make a response. Read and respond to e-mails right on your computer or mobile device.

Tip for more safe and secure e-mail – Occasionally clean out your e-mail and text messages from your computers and devices at home and at work. Old messages are a target for hackers. And they clutter your work space.

6. Choosing a Mobile E-mail Service

For personal use, simply use an e-mail account provided by a free e-mail provider (Yahoo, Hotmail, etc.), your company, your local phone company or your wireless service provider. Then use the free public Internet e-mail system for transmitting messages.

For business use, the public Internet e-mail system has some shortcomings, such as security, spam and viruses. It may be worthwhile for an organization to pay for an enterprise mobile e-mail software or service and get enhanced security, open architecture, simplified administration and more productive users.

Determine your e-mail requirements by estimating the following activities:

  • How many employees will use mobile e-mail and messaging?
  • From what domestic and international locations will they need access to mobile e-mail?
  • How many mobile e-mails will they send and receive each day, week or month?
  • What is the content of their mobile e-mails? Text, images, other?
  • What level of message security is required?
  • What detail of message activity reporting do you need?
  • What corporate software, e-mail or data do you want to be integrated with the mobile e-mail? Sales, marketing, financial, news, or other information?
  • What is your budget for the initial purchase and operating expenses?

Then decide what type of e-mail system will meet your needs, investigate qualified systems and make a purchase decision.

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