It Takes a Wireless Village…

A group of wireless carriers, handset makers and supporters that banded together last year in the Wireless Village initiative said wireless instant messaging (IM) interoperability has now been achieved among various carriers.

The group, sponsored by industry heavyweights Ericsson , Motorola and Nokia and more than 100 other companies, announced the release of the Wireless Village version 1.0 specifications in the U.K. , which will enable interoperability of mobile instant messaging and presence services (IMPS).

The new specs are described as “a powerful catalyst for promoting universal interoperability between mobile- and fixed-network instant messaging and presence services,” organization officials said.

In addition to presenting the specification, the Wireless Village initiative will demonstrate interoperability across the features and functions provided by the Wireless Village version 1.0 protocols, using mobile phones, mobile computing devices, PCs and server products developed by participating Wireless Village sponsors and supporters.

Consumers and business professionals who use Wireless Village-compliant products and services will be able to access interoperable, feature-rich mobile instant messaging and presence functions on wireless devices, officials said. Presence-information viewing, content sharing, multimedia instant-message sending and community-chat participation via mobile terminals are among the features provided by the new spec.

Information on “presence” greatly enhances the utility of instant messaging because it can keep track of the online status and availability of the user’s chat partners or friends, group officials also said.

End users will be able to tap into these features from Wireless Village specification-enabled mobile phones, mobile-computing devices and desktop applications, no matter who made the devices or applications. They’ll use such transports as short message services (SMS), wireless-application protocol (WAP) and hypertext transport protocol (HTTP).

With the open specifications, device manufacturers, application developers, wireless operators, and portal operators are already able to introduce commercial Wireless Village compliant products and services. To that end, a number of wireless technology providers have already made product and service announcements surrounding today’s Wireless Village release (see separate story).

A spokesperson from MessageVine, a Wireless Village participant, said the move is significant because “it marks the first time that a large group has actually taken real steps towards IM interoperability and backed it up with action.”

The Wireless Village initiative was formed in April 2001 to define and promote a set of universal specifications for mobile instant messaging and presence services. The initiative is also building a vibrant community of users, mobile operators and global business partners where Internet and wireless domains converge. The IEEE Industry Standards and Technology Organization (IEEE-ISTO) provides day-to-day administrative support to the Wireless Village initiative.

Bob Woods is the managing editor of InstantMessagingPlanet.

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