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Ford hanging up on land lines
Automaker hires Sprint to move 8,000 workers from traditional desktop phones to the cellular kind.
January 25, 2005: 7:56 AM EST

NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - Dial phones and manual typewriters left offices long ago. Will traditional desktop phones be the next to go?

Wireless phone provider Sprint and Ford Motor Co. announced this week that 8,000 employees at the auto manufacturer will shed their land line phones and use cell phones exclusively. The transition is set to begin in March with Ford's product development unit.

Experts in the field say that other companies that have shed all or most of their land line phones in favor of wireless are generally much smaller than the nation's No. 2 auto manufacturer, which had 327,000 worldwide employees at the end of 2004.

But they said that other larger companies can also be expected to follow Ford and shift more of their office employees to cell phones.

"I wouldn't say it's a widespread trend, but clearly we're moving in that direction," Eugene Signorini, an analyst with technology consulting firm the Yankee Group, told USA Today.

The Sprint telephones given to Ford employees will have a walkie-talkie feature. Ford Telecommunication Manager Jeff Lemmer told the paper that the product development employees in Dearborn, Mich., were chosen for the shift because they are often away from their desks and require a lot of collaboration and instant communication.

Buildings at Ford's complex in Dearborn will get extra antennas to make sure there are no dead zones, the newspaper reported. Even with those changes, however, the costs for equipment and airtime are expected to be about the same for the current combination of land lines and pagers, Jackie Shuk, Ford's manager of product operations, told the newspaper.  Top of page

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