Korea Adopts Java for Wireless Standard

Sun Microsystems Monday said it has scored a wireless coup in Korea as the country has adopted its Java platform for a new wireless Internet standard.

The Santa Clara, Calif.-based network computer maker said it has signed an agreement in Seoul on April 14 with Korean Wireless Internet Standardization Forum (KWISF) to jointly develop and commercialize the next version of the country’s Wireless Internet Platform for Interoperability (WIPI).

KWISF is a consortium of Korean network operators SK Telecom, KTF, and LG TeleCom. WIPI was developed as Korea’s wireless Internet standard for mobile handsets to open up the national mobile Internet network and harmonize the development efforts of Korean telecommunications companies. The country also supports next-generation CDMA and GSM cellular technologies like 1x EV-DO and W-CDMA.

As part of the agreement, WIPI will adopt Java 2 Platform, Micro Edition (J2ME Platform) as its official Java specification. J2ME is the Java platform for consumer and embedded devices such as wireless handsets, PDAs, TV set-top boxes, in-vehicle telematics systems, and a broad range of embedded devices.

Sun estimates Korean operators will likely deploy the new standard beginning in March 2004.

“Korea is one of the most advanced cell phone markets in the world. The decision to make Java technology an integral part of Korea’s wireless standard underscores the significant value early adopters place on this technology,” said Sun Vice President, Consumer and Mobile Systems Group Alan Brenner.

The collaboration of JCP and WIPI specifications is expected to facilitate next-generation wireless technologies based on interoperable, standards-based platforms. However, the deal may just create some friction at first considering KTF uses QUALCOMM’s BREW technology, a competing standard to Java and SK Telecom and KTF offer 1x EV-DO services while LG Telecom holds only a cdma2000 license and currently offers 1xRTT service. Fortunately, QUALCOMM has been working with Sun of late to blend functions between BREW and Java.

“Through the Java Community Process, we plan to work together with members of KWISF to develop new features and functions for mobile handsets in line with WIPI. This will support application developers in Korea and help them to bring new handset experiences to local wireless subscribers,” Brenner said.

A WIPI commercialization event is scheduled to take place in Korea on April 29 to announce the availability of the WIPI standard.

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