Wireless Service Standard Launched

One of the world’s largest mobile wireless trade organizations Wednesday launched an initiative to standardize delivery of Net-based services offered to wireless users.

The GSM Association said that a wide variety of mobile software and hardware vendors and wireless operators already have jumped on the bandwagon for its new Mobile Services Initiative (M-Services). The purpose of the initiative, according to the association, is to deliver “a globally available set of services through the mobile Internet.”

The association said that the initiative doesn’t replace other standards such as Wireless Application Protocol (WAP), but rather will incorporate and enhance them.

“The GSM community is waiting for WAP 2.0. That will be commercially available in the year 2002; however the standard will not be exhaustive because it is not going to explain how customers can use the services they are offered during their navigation,” the association said a paper describing the standard, which is posted on the group’s Web site.

The standard lists both the current version of WAP and WAP 2.0 as building-blocks for M-Services. It also lists a variety of other standards including SyncML for vCard and vCal, Multimedia Messaging and Enhanced Messaging Service. It does not explicitly include i-mode.

The background of the standard notes that many services are not included in existing standards. For instance, the procedure for downloading a ring tone is not included in the WAP 2.0 standard, it notes.

The standard outlines a number of issues such as the graphical user interface for phones. For example, it discusses soft keys and other on-phone navigation aids on phones that use WAP, saying the preferred configuration for phones is to have two programmable soft keys plus a dedicated back or erase key.

It also calls for graphical user interface elements not currently in the WAP standard such as pop-up menus, radio buttons and check boxes.

A wide variety of vendors endorsed the initiative, including Openwave, which was one of the earliest proponents of WAP. Among the other vendors supporting the initiative are phone vendors Alcatel, Ericsson, Motorola, Nokia, Sagem, Samsung and Siemens.

Wireless operators supporting the initiative include France Telecom Mobiles, Telefonica Moviles, Bouygues Telecom and Singapore’s M1.

The initiative is aimed at GSM and GPRS systems which are widely used in Europe and Asia but not in North America.

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