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Mobile operators unite to influence handset evolution

Posted: 28 Jun 2004 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:open mobile terminal platform? 3g network? operating system? handset?

Eight leading cellular network operators joined forces Wednesday, June 23, 2004 to form the Open Mobile Terminal Platform to work on handset recommendations that major vendors like Nokia, Samsung, Motorola and Sony Ericsson will be expected to meet.

Members of the alliance include Vodafone, Orange, T-Mobile, mmO2, Spain's Telefonica, Telecom Italia Mobile and NTT DoCoMo. Other operators expressing interest in joining were Hutchison/3 - which operates the only commercial 3G networks in Europe - the Dutch group KPN, SFR of France and Norway's Telenor.

The organization will be headquartered here.

The OMTP alliance is a clear indication that the operators want to exert more influence on the type of handsets used on their networks, and on the way handsets are designed, including the use of operating systems.

OMTP intends to define common platform requirements for handsets for 2.5G and beyond, so carriers can deliver standard applications across many different handsets. The specification will also allow enough room for the carrier to add a level of customization, according to an alliance statement.

The group stressed its desire to use "existing standards, where they exist", but also said it would encourage and recommend new standards in line with its requirements.

"As a technology neutral organization, all technology vendors will be free to contribute to and support OMTP requirements and to provide OMTP-compliant products," the alliance said.

One of the group's goals will be encouraging nonproprietary operating systems with better interoperability with Java. Another will be to foster greater competition among mobile phone OSs.

OS developer Symbian said it welcomed organizations that are dedicated to supporting open standards. Microsoft Corp. said in a statement that its mobile communications strategy remains unchanged.

The software giant noted that it already works with many of the companies involved in the alliance, and said it anticipates "many areas of alignment" with OMTP principles.

- John Walko

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