updated 06:00 pm EDT, Wed October 22, 2008
iPhones may be on the Hill
US State Senator may have a trendy new gadget next year, as congress is considering the iPhone as its newest communication device. TheHill.com is reporting that Congress's Chief Administrative Office (CAO), the office in charge of congressional communications, is testing a set of iPhones among its ranks to see if the device will function within the needs of Capital Hill representatives and support staff.
Currently, the BlackBerry is the most common device on the Hill, but many members are asking about iPhones. CAO spokesman Jeff Ventura said "The reason we're trying them out is because we heard a lot of people wanted the option to have them."
The primary hurdle to adopting the iPhone as an option is the incompatible BlackBerry Enterprise server. The only way members of congress can get their BlackBerry based e-mail on an iPhone is by tethering it to their computers, limiting minute-to-minute e-mail access. The CAO would have to invest in new servers to allow members mobile e-mail via the iPhone, and the office is running tests to be sure the phones are a working option before making the investment.
Should the CAO go ahead with the iPhone as an option, members would be required to pay for it out of their Member's Representational Allowance, possibly another hurdle for some members. With over 8000 BlackBerry devices operating on the Hill, there are substantial gains to be had with even marginal penetration of the iPhone, assuming it is accepted as an option.