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Report: Wireless Multimedia Forum Makes Key Decisions

The Wireless Multimedia Forum (WMF) has revealed a set of technologies to be evaluated for the global deployment of streaming multimedia content over mobile, IP-based networks.

The group has chosen a target date of December 2000 to release its Recommended Technology Framework Document (RTFD) for streaming media applications. The document will specify technologies - already available in the marketplace - which all industry players can use to ensure the interoperability of mobile applications and networks worldwide.

Founded in March, the multi-vendor forum of about 35 hardware vendors, software makers, carriers, and content developers is conducting work intended to hasten the worldwide, consistent delivery of new application-focused, content-rich business services. The goal of the group's technology recommendations is to enable such services to be delivered over both wired and wireless IP networks to any mobile device beginning next year.

The WMF revealed that at its recent international summit:

* It began evaluation of compression techniques and control protocols to recommend in the RTFD for the delivery of streaming media. Technologies being considered for December's RTFD include the following:

* MPEG4 video compression - H.263 data compression - XML and other "HTML-style" markup languages - Synchronized Multimedia Integration Language (SMIL) - Session Description Protocol (SDP) - RTSP (Real Rime Streaming Protocol)

* Year-end 2000 has been set as the target date for the public release of the Forum's streaming media RTFD. This set of recommended technologies, which already exist in the marketplace, will enable service providers and content developers to deploy new content-rich streaming media services over any mobile network, rather than develop and redevelop applications to run on different network platforms.

The Forum plans to prioritize additional applications at its next meeting September 18-19, 2000 in Raleigh-Durham, N.C.

The WMF has targeted about 20 worldwide standards bodies, forums, and alliances engaged in mobile network activity as potential partners to ensure consistency across all platforms. Among the groups to be considered in WMF activities are the following:

- The WAP Forum, a group of vendors that have agreed to implement the Wireless Application Protocol (WAP). WAP is a communications protocol and application environment that defines a mini-Web browser optimized for mobile phones with limited CPU, memory and display size.

- The Third Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) and 3GPP2 for interoperable high-speed, global mobile networks

- The Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), which oversees development and standardization of several protocols related to mobile networking

- The International Standardization Organization (ISO), which holds responsibility for MPEG video compression technologies

- The International Telecommunications Union- Telecommunications (ITU-T), the overseer of data compression technologies such as G.723.1 and H.263

Forum members that participated in the July decision-making were ActiveSky Inc., e-Vue Inc., Hantro Products Oy, Hitachi Ltd., Intel Corp., Luxxon Corp., Matsushita Electric Corp. of America/Panasonic, Mitsubishi Electric Corp., Net2Wireless Corp., NewsTakes Inc., NTT DoCoMo, Optibase Ltd., PacketVideo Corporation, Summus Ltd., Sonera Corp., Toshiba Corp., Zapex Research Ltd., Viridien Technologies Inc. and Zucotto Systems Inc.

"This work will increase the number of interoperable applications, products and services available to customers and accelerate their availability," said Martin Hall, chief technology officer at Stardust.com, the company that manages the WMF and other Internet-related forums and events.

Following the group's consensus on which technologies