Ford Motor Co. has signed a contract with Sprint to let 8000 Ford employees replace their desktop phones with Sprint mobile phones with Ready Link, the wireless carrier’s walkie-talkie-like service over its CDMA-based network, Sprint announced today.

The transition to a mobile-only environment is designed to give Ford’s product-development employees—primarily engineers that travel to its facilities throughout the country—a single point of communication.

"Ford is once again breaking new ground in enabling total mobility for critical members of its workforce," Sprint Business Solutions President Howard Janzen said in a prepared statement. "These wirelessly empowered employees will be able to spend more productive time with the right people and in the right places, rather than behind a desk."

Ford spokeswoman Valerie Rosnik said 800 of the product-development employees already have been issued Sprint mobile phones, and the entire group of 8000 is scheduled to be outfitted with the mobile solution by the end of the year.