Few people use a cellular phone to send and receive computer data. The process is clumsy, unreliable, and pricey. Now, IBM and a group of nine cellular carriers--including McCaw Cellular, GTE Mobile Communications, and six of the seven regional Bell companies--hope to change that. On Apr. 22, they proposed a standard for data networks that carriers can add cheaply and quickly to their systems.

No prices were announced, but the network, expected to start in 1993, has lined up a big customer: Sears, which plans to test the network for its service fleet, Allstate Insurance agents, and otheroperations.

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