A survey commissioned by Nextel Communications and conducted by the Rochester, NY-based marketing research firm Harris Interactive polled 78 transportation executives across the U.S. to determine how extensively these companies are using wireless devices in their transportation fleets. The survey showed an increase in the adoption of wireless technology in day-to-day business operations as a cost-effective way to improve efficiency and customer service.

The top four uses of wireless technology, according to the survey, are 1) cellular service (98%) for use by executives and sales staffs; 2) push-to-talk service (69%); 3) BlackBerry devices (58%); and 4) barcode scanning (60%). In addition, transportation firms highlighted the growing use of WLANs for their offices and warehouses.

The transportation sector identified geographic coverage as the primary criterion for selecting a wireless carrier (67%), far outpacing data network speeds (9%) and pricing (11%). The survey also showed that GPS technology is more widely used within the transportation industry for navigation and routing updates (69%).

A majority of transportation companies (61%) also said they see a need for a combination cellular and WiFi capabilities, while nearly half (45%) thought a wireless phone integrated with a handheld PC or BlackBerry device would be helpful.