A Tennessee-based load-matching service has become the first to offer load searches on Internet-enabled mobile phones.

LoadSource Inc. of Columbia, Tenn., launched the wireless service, called LoadPhone, last week. The service allows members to search the LoadSource database using Internet service provided by Sprint PCS and GTE wireless communications. Users must have web-enabled phones and accounts with one of the two providers currently offering Internet service.
According to LoadSource president Brian Johnson, the LoadPhone service will also work on WAP (Wireless Application Protocol) phones made by Ericsson, Motorola and Nokia expected to be available in the U.S. in the near future.
While LoadPhone is up and working, marketing has not begun and there are no current users, said Johnson, so pricing has not been set. However, he expects LoadPhone to cost approximately $25 a month over the average $50 a month that the typical LoadSource customer spends.
Johnson said his company’s service is aimed squarely at owner-operators.
“They can forget the laptops,” he said. “They’re cumbersome and cost money. But almost every owner-operator carries a cellular phone. It’s familiar. They can use it at the restaurant. They can forget about truckstop kiosks. They can forget about calling the wife at home to fire up the computer and look for a load only to find she isn’t home from work yet.”
Cell phone Internet access has limitations such as the small viewing screen and the difficulty of typing commands on a small keypad. Johnson concedes that there is a slight learning curve for finding loads on a cell phone.
“The hardest part is typing in the city name on the keyboard,” he said, “but you learn to do it fairly quickly. As far as the names of the web sites, you only type those once. Then you bookmark them.”
LoadSource has been in load matching since 1991 when they operated a computer bulletin board accessed by modem. Now on the Internet, LoadSource has “between 5,000 and 6,000 registered companies with us,” said Johnson, “and that grows by 20-30 a day."