SMIA specification targets multiple sourcing and lower camera-phone costs

Nokia and STMicroelectronics today announced that they are releasing a comprehensive specification for camera modules, aimed at standardizing this increasingly important component in mobile devices.
 

The specification, dubbed Standard Mobile Imaging Architecture, or SMIA, will cover all aspects of the modules, including their electrical, mechanical, and functional interfaces, and also address other key areas such as characterization, optical performance, and reliability. The SMIA specification is offered for free to the mobile imaging industry and is available at www.smia-forum.org.
 
The mobile-phone camera-module industry has developed rapidly in terms of technology, with dramatic increases in image quality and higher resolution. SMIA is a standardization effort to fulfill the emerging new requirements and enable mobile handset vendors to work with multiple suppliers. SMIA's target is to address the task of specifying functional and optical behavior of camera modules and therefore truly enable cost-efficient multiple sourcing of the module at the phone level.
 
"The camera phone market will increase rapidly with cameras entering into key product segments of mobile devices. Nokia recently estimated that the camera phone market would exceed 200 million units this year. SMIA's target is to streamline and accelerate the camera module development, ultimately contributing to creation of the state-of art imaging mobile devices, independent of vendors," said Janne Haavisto, Director, Camera Entity, Nokia Technology Platforms.
 
"ST and Nokia have worked on this specification for more than two years and both companies are contributing significant intellectual property into SMIA," said Marc Vasseur, General Manager of ST's Imaging Division. "ST has been immensely successful in this market due to best-in-class pixel performance, sensor and module development capabilities, and full ownership of the manufacturing flow. Now, the standardization of interfaces and system partitioning, via SMIA, will enable us to address significantly more opportunities in the mobile phone industry."
 
The demand for higher image resolution to mega pixel and beyond has prompted the need for increasing bandwidth on the interface, while keeping the pin count low and EMI consistent with mobile phone design constraints. In addition, significant cost reductions are made possible by optimizing the architecture of the camera phone as a whole, as opposed to viewing the camera as a peripheral subsystem. SMIA proposes a framework for defining the related metrics.
 
SMIA specifies imaging sub-element partitioning that will enable independent technology evolution and optimal design development. Based on a partitioned architecture approach, the optics and sensor will be implemented on the SMIA camera module and imaging processing will be executed, for example, by the mobile phone's main application processor engine.

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Magic4, the world’s leading supplier of seamless mobile messaging software solutions, and Colibria, a leading supplier of Presence, Instant Messaging and Community Messaging solutions today announced an interoperable IMPS client – server infrastructure that includes all features defined in OMA’s IMPS 1.2 enabler. 
 

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Chaoticom announced today that Orange has selected Chaoticom as the exclusive provider of mobile music downloading services on the Orange UK network. Orange will launch the service, branded "Music Player", on July 1, 2004.

Chaoticom's award winning Mobile Music Platform enables music downloads to more handset models than any mobile music solution in the world. A growing range of handsets are supported, including the Orange SPV E200 smartphone.

"We selected Chaoticom because they have the best technology and best total solution," said Mark Ashford, Head of Entertainment at Orange UK. "The user experience is excellent and we are excited to be offering it to such a wide audience."
  
Using Music Player, customers can browse, preview, and download tracks directly to their mobile handsets.

"We're very excited to be launching a service at Orange UK," said Bathsheba J. Malsheen, President and CEO of Chaoticom. "Orange has shown great leadership in multimedia handsets making them the best partner for us in the biggest music market in Europe."
  
Chaoticom's Mobile Music Solution enables mobile operators to
offer full-track music downloading services on more than 19 handset models on today's mobile data networks. Chaoticom's revolutionary KOZ encoding format makes real-time high-quality over-the-air mobile music downloads possible. KOZ technology consumes significantly less battery power and requires less processing power than other solutions available today. The solution was awarded "Best Contribution to Mobile
Music 2004" by the leading industry group, The Mobile  ntertainment Forum.

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Goes for EDGE where UMTS doesn't reach

TeliaSonera´s wholly owned subsidiary NetCom in Norway is stepping up the pace of its mobile network roll-out

"By the end of 2005 NetCom will be able to offer 3G services over a high-speed mobile network to almost the total of the population of Norway. It is important for us to offer third generation mobile services to as many people as possible, as quickly and as cheaply as possible", says Barbara Thoralfsson, administrative director of NetCom. "We will achieve this by deploying EDGE technology - a more advanced version of today´s GSM network. This means a speed two to three times faster than ISDN."

Concurrently, NetCom will continue expanding the UMTS network. In November 2000 NetCom won a concession to build UMTS with a population coverage of 76.5 percent. This expansion is in full swing, but in order to give a larger percentage of the public access to higher-quality 3G services at an even earlier date, NetCom is to deploy EDGE as well.

"The customer is not concerned with technology but with what it can be used for and how it can be used. The areal coverage of EDGE will be considerably greater than that of UMTS by itself, and this is what is important to the user. This 3G offering will give the Norwegian public an offer that is in the forefront of development," says Thoralfsson.

"Many places in Norway will not be covered by UMTS initially. That is why we also want to use a technology that we can build into our existing mobile network," says Thoralfsson.

"EDGE is a fully-fledged 3G technology, and among other features it will give far better indoor coverage than UMTS will provide initially. This will be an important step towards the goal of a wireless Norway with good, inexpensive telecom services for the public," Barbara Thoralfsson concludes.

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Tektronix and Inet Technologies today announced that they have signed a definitive agreement for Tektronix to acquire Inet, a leading global provider of communications software solutions
that enable network operators to more strategically and profitably operate their businesses. Inet's products address next-generation networks, including 2.5G and 3G mobile data and  voice-over-packet (also referred to as VoIP) technologies, and traditional networks.

Inet, founded in 1989 and profitable every year since 1990, has approximately 500 employees worldwide and had 2003 sales of $104 million. When combined with Tektronix' mobile protocol test business, sales from products addressing the network monitoring and protocol test markets are expected to exceed $200 million, making Tektronix one of the largest global providers of these solutions.

Tektronix anticipates that the acquisition will accelerate the delivery of products and solutions for network operators and equipment manufacturers seeking to implement next-generation technologies such as General Packet
Radio Service (GPRS), Universal Mobile Telecommunications Systems (UMTS) and VoIP. Inet will become part of Tektronix' Communications and Video business.

Tektronix will acquire all of Inet's outstanding stock for approximately $12.50 per share consisting of $6.25 per share in cash and approximately $6.25 per share in Tektronix' stock. After adjusting for Inet's $172 million cash balance as of March 31, 2004, the net purchase price is $325 million. The net purchase price will be satisfied with net consideration
of approximately $250 million in Tektronix stock and approximately $75 million in cash. The stock portion of the consideration is subject to a 10 percent collar. The transaction, which has been approved by both companies' Boards of Directors, is subject to customary closing conditions, including
Inet stockholder approval and certain regulatory approvals. The transaction is expected to close on approximately September 30, 2004.


"Tektronix' strategy is to develop leadership positions in selected test, measurement and monitoring product categories that are large and growing. We believe that combining Inet with our mobile protocol business enables us to grow and enhance our leadership position in this market," said Rick Wills, Tektronix Chairman and CEO. "Our protocol business has seen very strong performance over the last few years. This combination represents a unique opportunity to build on that success by adding Inet's leadership in its target markets -- especially mobile data -- to Tektronix' capabilities and
relationships with mobile equipment manufacturers."

Wills continued, "We intend to leverage product and technology synergies to enable us to accelerate product development and bring new products to customers faster. In addition, network operators and equipment manufacturers will be able to access, from one supplier, all of their network monitoring and protocol test needs across the technology 'food chain'."

"We are very excited about this opportunity," said Elie Akilian,
President and Chief Executive Officer of Inet. "The synergies between our two companies -- in terms of products, sales channels, customer care and strategic focus -- are substantial. This transaction provides Inet the scale needed to successfully capitalize on the significant growth opportunities in today's mobile data and VoIP markets. Our stockholders should be pleased with the resulting combination -- a global market leader offering a broad portfolio of products that address the entire technology life cycle to the world's leading network operators and equipment manufacturers. This also provides a great growth opportunity for our employees to become part of a $1 billion company with significant worldwide resources and footprint."

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Joins iPass Global Broadband Roaming network; provides secure, easy-to-use, high-speed Internet access for business travellers

UK Explorer and iPass Inc today announced that more than 50 of UK Explorer’s wired and wireless access points have been certified as Enterprise Ready by iPass and become part of the iPass Global Broadband Roaming network. The Enterprise Ready certification from iPass means that business travellers using UK Explorer’s access points can be confident that they now have the most simple and secure connectivity via the Internet to their corporate network-based data and applications.

UK Explorer access points include wireless hotspots and laptop docking terminals at some of the UK and Ireland’s primary locations for business travellers including London Heathrow, London Gatwick, London Stansted, Manchester, Birmingham, Shannon and Edinburgh Airports. They also include Express by Holiday Inn hotels in regional business centres like Belfast, Birmingham (NEC), Bristol, Cardiff, Glasgow, Southampton and London. UK Explorer expects to increase the number of hotspots in the iPass network to more than 100 within the next three months, and continue adding to that number moving forward.

"We’re very excited in the growth curve of wireless adopters that we’re seeing at the moment," said Richard Stubbs, managing director, UK Explorer.  "By joining the iPass Global Broadband Roaming Network, we are making both our wired and wireless access points visible to millions of potential customers from around the world. Because of this, it’s a very important relationship for us as it means that we can compete for customers with the major telecommunications and service providers."

UK Explorer’s network of access points features both wireless hotspots, which cover large public areas such as airport lounges, hotel foyers or conference rooms, and laptop docking stations that provide wired broadband Internet access. By joining the iPass Global Network, UK Explorer is making these access points accessible to the more than half-million individual enterprise employees who use the iPass service every month. 

The iPass Enterprise Ready certification means that IT managers can confidently, easily and securely provision access to corporate networks from nearly 10,000 access points around the world.  This ensures not only Internet service availability, but also interoperability with policy-based security systems such as virtual private networks, personal firewalls and anti-virus protection systems, ensuring users remain compliant with all corporate security and Internet usage policies.

"UK Explorer has a very powerful footprint in both the wired and wireless access point market in the UK and Ireland. Their focus on delivering access to users in ‘business’ venues is an extremely close fit with our vision of making access available to our business customers, regardless of where they are," said Doug Loewe, managing director for EMEA at iPass. "UK Explorer’s access points, coupled with our service, mean that businesses have complete peace of mind that their remote workers can maximise productivity, without compromising security. That we also provide them with the best available service, at the most cost effective rate and a single point for billing is an even more compelling benefit."

Tata Infotech and Integri named in deals to support m-commerce rollout across Europe

Simpay, the mobile payment scheme founded by Orange, Telefónica Móviles, T-Mobile and Vodafone, has announced further providers in the creation of its mobile payment scheme. Following the 5th April 2004 announcement that Encorus, majority owned by First Data Corp., had been selected as the Scheme Central Service Provider, Simpay has now revealed that Tata Infotech and Integri will form the cornerstones of its testing strategy for the payment scheme due to launch commercially in early 2005.

Tata Infotech, a global systems integrator, is part of the Tata Group, India’s best-known industrial conglomerate. Tata Infotech will support Simpay in testing the central processing systems and the readiness of Simpay’s members for scheme launch. Tata Infotech was chosen for its ability to meet Simpay’s requirement to cost effectively conduct extensive and intensive testing using a combination of experienced onshore and offshore resources. Tata Infotech has successfully undertaken similar projects and provided innovative solutions to its customers worldwide in the areas of Software Development, IT Enabled Services and IT Infrastructure Management, amongst others.

Integri has been selected to build a suite of simulators of Simpay’s systems, to enable stand-alone testing by mobile operators of their own components of the scheme prior to full integration and to support the acceptance testing of the central platform. The Simpay Scheme Simulator will be built around Integri’s versatile and open test and simulation platform, INQ Test Tool. Integri’s INQ Test Tool architecture is conceived to meet  the most demanding standards of electronic transactions. Integri’s worldwide customers-base includes financial institutions, telecom operators and system integrators in both e- and m-commerce.

Simpay’s offering is ideally matched to the current m-payments market allowing customers to make low price point purchases using their mobile phone. The cost of the goods or services, which include buying an MP3 music file, downloading a game or obtaining sports results, is debited from the mobile user’s account by his or her mobile operator. Simpay is ideally suited to next generation mobile services such as real time video.

Tim Jones, CEO, Simpay comments, "These announcements provide further evidence that Simpay is intent on making Mobile Payments happen. They represent another major milestone towards Simpay’s commercial launch in Europe during early 2005.  We are confident that we and our providers will meet these timescales; Encorus will construct and operate our processing infrastructure, Tata Infotech will provide independent testing support and Integri will build our simulators."

Charles Antony, COO, Tata Infotech said: "Tata Infotech is proud to partner with Simpay which is the appropriate vehicle to take m-commerce to the masses.  This partnership is in line with our competence in providing high-end value-added application and systems integration solution to our telecom customers worldwide.

Jan De Meester, CEO, Integri commented: "This further demonstrates the versatility of the INQ Test Tool, which can easily be customised for different industries. One of the key features of the INQ Test Tool is that the learning curve for a test team can be kept low. We are confident that the Integri test technology in combination with Tata Infotech's testing services will contribute to the quality and the success of the Simpay initiative."

mobilkom austria and IBM today announced that they have completed the first phase in implementing a new open standard framework that will transform the way data services are provided to customers and reduce delivery time significantly.

mobilkom austria utilised the industry-specific business and technology expertise of IBM to establish and execute its ASMP (Access and Service Management Platform) strategy. mobilkom austria’s access and service management platform is based on IBM's Service Provider Delivery Environment (SPDE), an open-standard architecture which gives service providers the flexibility to introduce new data services faster, easier and at lower cost.

Meeting customer demands for new services and providing new ways of purchasing and accessing them is at the heart of mobilkom austria’s strategy. The company attaches great importance not only to the extensive range of its data service offering but also to its ability to deliver services as quickly and efficiently as possible. The provisioning process is fundamental to mobilkom austria’s success as an on demand service provider.

Service provisioning is an intricate business process which requires cooperation with third party content and service providers encompassing numerous systems, including billing, data mining, CRM etc. Time effectiveness of service delivery is a key prerequisite for the introduction of brand new services and highly dependent on the complexity of the entire provisioning process, where a number of different applications, platforms, channels and devices are involved.

"At mobilkom austria, the customer comes first, second and third. We wanted an environment where a single customer sign-on would be recognized by every system. With the new system, once signed in, customer rights are automatically understood by all applications connected to the platform" said Dr. Boris Nemsic, CEO of mobilkom austria and COO Wireless of Telekom Austria, "IBM has helped us build an integration platform that lets us develop and deploy new services faster, and at the same time our customers benefit from immediate improvements, single sign-on and access to exciting new services quickly".

"mobilkom austria has a proven track record of delivering innovation into the marketplace. They have been quick to recognise the value of on demand and the SPDE service delivery platform to support their strategy and to drive their Business" said Elly Keinan, IBM Vice President, EMEA Communications Sector. "More than just applying technology, on demand business is about new business designs, enabling companies to be more productive and responsive. SPDE enables service providers to integrate their business processes end-to-end across the company and with key partners, suppliers and customers letting them respond with speed to any customer demand or market opportunity".

The Oberhausen based German company, conVISUAL, is now offering the delivery of bulk MMS to Switzerland and Austria, additionally to established SMS. The MMS Gateway Services allow for secure and reliable sending of multimedia messages within all German-speaking countries. This means that mobile media can be used for both national and international communication.

conVISUAL is offering the distribution of bulk SMS and MMS to Austria and Switzerland, additional to the dispatch within Germany. A standardized interface connecting the Austrian network operators Mobilkom Austria, MaxMobil, One, Telering and the Swiss operators Swisscom Mobile, Sunrise, and Orange guarantees that short messages and multimedia messages can be sent to these networks smoothly. The conVISUAL gateway service does not only include mere sending of MMS and SMS to the respective net but also provision of comfortable interfaces for content delivery, automatic creation of multimedia messages as well as operator billing for premium services.

Bulk SMS and MMS is particularly interesting for media companies, Internet portals, providers of content or services, and consumer goods companies that want to enable mobile access to their services or wish to use another distribution channel. Any company, e. g. a TV broadcaster, a publishing house or a multiple fast food store, can now directly send their offerings to the devices of their target group, in the form of an SMS or MMS. The possible spectrum of contents for campaigns includes e. g. programme information, cinema trailers, product news, travel offerings, and quizzes. Optionally, service providers can either charge a service fee or supply their services free of charge, in the scope of a mobile marketing campaign.

conVISUAL offers Premium SMS for cost-liable services supplied in any German-speaking network. A mobile user can, for example, order an MMS service by sending an SMS to a short code. This service will be billed via the users regular mobile invoice. The advantage for service providers is that they do not have to build their own billing infrastructure.

Radioplan, a leading supplier of 3G radio network simulation, optimisation, and measurement analysis solutions, has been selected to supply radio network optimisation tools and services to four new customers in EMEA and Japan.

Following extensive technical trials and evaluations of a wide range of tools, Radioplan’s WiNeS optimisation platform and consulting services were chosen to support demanding pre-launch optimisation projects by both 3G vendors and 3G mobile operator clients.
 
Johannes Huebner, Radioplan’s Executive Manager, commented "Naturally we are delighted Radioplan’s tools have proven to be of the technical quality and commercial maturity required to perform such mission critical tasks. I am particularly pleased that our unique approaches to solving network optimisation problems, which include proprietary processing methods and support of the end-to-end workflow, were decisive factors."
 
Founded in 2000, Radioplan has doubled in size year-on-year through organic growth, and the company now supports customers in more than 15 countries across the globe from its Dresden base. The WiNeS product range allows 3G operators to re-engineer the radio environment in a targeted manner by enabling fast and flexible scenario modelling, helping operators examine and support the network quality goals underpinning their business.
 
"By cutting the time it takes to optimise a particular network scenario to a few minutes, rather than days, Radioplan’s solutions allow our customers to examine a wide range of scenarios in just hours, allowing them to consider the trade-offs inherent in a 3G network design and understand the capabilities of existing infrastructure before they make expensive, unnecessary changes" said Dietrich Hunold, Radioplan’s Technical Director.
 
In addition to fast, field-proven optimisation mechanisms, Radioplan’s WiNeS software platform features integrated support for a wide range of commercially available measurement acquisition systems and network planning tools, including the latest Atollä API from Forskä, allowing tuning of pathloss data using drive test results and discovery of logical network errors. WiNeS also provides an extended optimisation suite, including 2G/3G site selection, cost constraint management, fully-featured graphical, temporal and statistical analysis, and interfaces to vendor-specific RRM algorithms. Several vendor-specific RRM libraries are already supported, allowing extremely precise prediction and optimisation of 3G network behaviour.

After a long and competitive tendering process, Orange today confirmed that Freever has been awarded the contract to deliver community services on a group-wide basis across its European operations.

Freever will deploy a totally interoperable turnkey solution using SMS, WAP and MMS platforms. The growth and popularity of chat services has meant that this kind of solution is becoming increasingly in demand amongst international mobile telephony operators who are seeking partners that are able to deploy and adapt their products and services across multiple markets.

Freever’s proprietary range of community services enables users to take part in public forums as well as SMS, MMS, WAP and Voice chat rooms. These services provide members with an opportunity to meet new friends and express themselves in a fun, dynamic and secure environment which is supervised and moderated around the clock, 24/7. Freever’s specialist editorial teams stimulate debate through a range of programmes including theme-based shows, games and interviews with top film, music and sporting celebrities.

Freever, which has positioned itself at the forefront of technological innovation, is investing heavily in researching and developing new products and new functionality. Over the past 12 months, members of Freever’s mobile communities will have seen their service enhanced with the deployment of more user-friendly and intuitive WAP portals, the introduction of colour WAP, MMS, global positioning technologies and video streaming.

Currently, Freever’s communities consist of over 2 million members across Britain, France, Belgium, Italy, Ireland, Germany and Spain.

New versions of tools and SDKs support Java-based open source IDE

Nokia has updated a broad array of its tools and software developer's kits (SDKs) to support Eclipse, the popular Java-based open source Integrated Development Environment (IDE). Support for the Eclipse platform is included in new versions of the Nokia Developer's Suite for J2ME, version 2.2, and the Nokia Mobile Server Services SDK. In addition, users can now integrate any MIDP Nokia platform SDK into the Eclipse environment. All of these Nokia tools and SDKs are now available free of charge to members of Forum Nokia PRO, the advanced developer program offered by Nokia's developer relations group, Forum Nokia. They will be made available to the general Forum Nokia community next month at www.forum.nokia.com.

An open platform for Java development, Eclipse by itself is a powerful IDE offering a wide array of Java development tools. The main strength of the Eclipse platform, however, is the simplicity of integrating additional tools into the Eclipse IDE as plug-ins. This provides the developer with the broadest possible range of advanced tools covering all aspects of Java development. Many of the Eclipse add-on tools are available as freeware, making Eclipse a very cost effective development environment.
 
Although only available to the open source community for less than three years, Eclipse has become the most popular IDE among North American Java developers, according to the latest statistics from market research firm Evans Data Corp. Among global wireless developers, Eclipse is one of the top three most-used Java IDEs.
 
"Eclipse is the fastest-growing environment for Java developers today," said Heikki Koivu, head of Developer Platform Tools, Nokia. "The size and strength of the Eclipse community made the decision to support Eclipse in our developer software very clear-cut and compelling. Ultimately, this support will attract more developers to building mobile applications and services, creating a stronger marketplace overall."
 
The Nokia tools and SDKs now supporting Eclipse give developers a complete set of software to begin creating mobile applications. The Nokia Developer's Suite (NDS) for J2ME provides developers with utilities for creating and deploying MIDP 1.0 and MIDP 2.0 applications and can be used as either a stand-alone tool or an integrated plug-in to Borland JBuilder, IBM WebSphere, Sun ONE Studio and, now, Eclipse. NDS for J2ME is the most downloaded Java related tool at Forum Nokia, averaging approximately 20,000 downloads per month.  The applications, once written, can be deployed to any Nokia developer platform SDK with MIDP, such as Series 40, Series 60, Series 80 or Series 90. These developer platforms provide common parameters and APIs across groups of handsets, creating volume opportunities for applications with minimal customization.

Nokia's Mobile Server Services SDK completes the picture.  A suite of server-based Java components, each with support for Eclipse now built in, Mobile Server Services SDK enables the development of server-side mobile messaging, location and presence solutions. Each of the components consists of a Java library to be used in the application and a development time emulator enabling the developer to test the applications without access to mobile infrastructure.
 
The Eclipse IDE offers additional benefits stemming from the versatility of environments that it supports. Because Eclipse is written in Java, it can be run from many different host operating systems, allowing tools developers to more easily support different hosts. Eclipse has already been deployed on a range of development workstations, including Linux, Windows-based and other systems. In addition, Eclipse is available to anyone free of charge, presenting obvious cost advantages over competing development platforms.
 
Eclipse is managed by The Eclipse Foundation, a non-profit corporation formed to advance the creation, evolution, promotion, and support of the Eclipse Platform and to cultivate both an open source community and an ecosystem of complementary products, capabilities, and services.

Telekom Austria’s mobile subsidiary, mobilkom austria, has today launched jointly with Vodafone Germany the first cross-border interoperable service for purchasing train tickets via mobile handsets.

Working with ÖBB, the Austrian Federal Railways, and CityNightLine, a German subsidiary of the German Railway, mobilkom austria and Vodafone Germany have made m-commerce transactions across countries a reality.

Hannes Ametsreiter, mobilkom austria’s Management Board Member and Chief Officer for Marketing, Sales and Customer Service said: "With this world’s first mobilkom austria and Vodafone Germany are opening up a new dimension in m-commerce."

One of the fundamental problems in m-commerce has been to offer seamless services across different countries because of the difficulties in unifying different billing systems. Through the close cooperation of mobilkom austria with Vodafone Deutschland, the ÖBB and CityNightLine, transnational m-commerce transactions have now become reality: tickets for trips from Austria to Germany or the other way around can be booked and also purchased via mobile phone. This first interoperable service in the world will not only increase take-up of mobilkom austria's m-ticket application, but will also pave the way for further major, cross-border m-commerce projects. 

Dirk Hemmerden, Director Business Unit Vodafone live! said: "Once again, Vodafone Germany and mobilkom austria are jointly taking on a technological and innovative pioneering role in mobile communications, which is hard to match internationally." 

Mobile train tickets are easy to obtain by text-messaging the desired destination to mobilkom austria’s text message ticketing service number +43 664 660 6000 for Austrian customers and to the Vodafone’s short-code 2600 for German customers or via the mobile Vodafone live! portal.

All mobile phone users in Austria can have access to the mobile payment service paybox (www.paybox.at), which enables customers of all Austrian network operators to pay with any mobile phone (irrespective of whether this is by prepaid card, contract or company phone). German Vodafone customers can pay via credit card.

elata, Europe’s leading content and service delivery software vendor, has today announced the launch of the elata liberty device and content dependency system. The device management solution is a new software product that enables mobile operators to manage the growing number of complex, feature-rich devices on their network. It allows operators to unlock the revenue potential of these devices by offering subscribers access to a wider range of compatible mobile applications and content that their handsets would not otherwise support.

Device and content dependency is a new concept within the wireless device management market. As increasingly sophisticated mobile devices are launched it is crucial that operators can automatically recognise the run-time capabilities of the device to deliver enabling device-resident applications.  These applications fall into three categories: operational management of the device; extending access to new services and customisation of the on-device brand experience. elata liberty has been developed to address the device and content dependency challenges facing mobile operators.

For example, when a subscriber selects a video clip to download from their unique content catalogue, elata liberty will detect if the device has the appropriate video player and suitable firmware version to support it, and will automatically deliver and install the player along with the video clip.  Should a firmware upgrade be required, elata liberty will trigger this action in a partner's over-the-air (OTA) platform, such as Bitfone's mProve.  Operators will benefit from increased revenue potential by providing subscribers with access to content their device would not previously support and will add a layer of extensible management over the devices operating environment.

"With the number of device shipments jumping 40% in Q1 2004 compared to Q1 in 20031  there is a growing requirement to maximise device revenue potential as well as minimise operational support costs.  As 3G services are launched and feature-rich devices proliferate, there will be a much greater emphasis on customising and controlling the user experience to give users access to a range of services that may require additional handset applications or interface extensions. Operators will also need the appropriate software to support the operational maintenance of these devices on their network," said Matt Hooper, VP Marketing and Strategic Alliances at elata.

elata is also working with leading players in the device management market such as Bitfone, SmartTrust and WDSGlobal to create a complete, end-to-end device management solution.  elata liberty drives the real-time recognition of device capabilities and device content dependency management; Bitfones mProve manages device firmware upgrades; the SmartTrust Device Management solution handles over-the-air settings and SIM configuration; and WDSGlobal provides a device-specific knowledge base and operational customer support.  By working together to deliver a best-of-breed solution, a holistic platform is finally available for mobile operators looking to implement a device management strategy in support of new data services and the 3G environment.

"Experience has shown us that many users of devices are not aware of the full functionality that exists on their handset or how to enable new services. The problem is growing as devices become more complex and the operational maintenance of these devices grows increasingly difficult for mobile operators," explained Lars-Erik Sellin, Chief Technology Officer at SmartTrust. "By offering a clear device management solution that meets the key business drivers of mobile operators, opportunities are created for both revenue generation and operational cost control."

Gene Wang, CEO at Bitfone Corporation added: "With so many devices, software applications and network protocols in use today, the only way to deliver complete OTA software maintenance for mobile phones is through integrated solutions and adherence to standards.  Bitfone is driving initiatives within standards groups, such as the OMA, and embracing technology partners, such as elata and WDSGlobal, to define and commercialize standards-based solutions that will provide seamless device management for operators.  In this way, Bitfone is helping to extend firmware over-the-air (FOTA) deployments from just bug-fixing to enabling a dynamic, customer-driven mobile experience."