Nokia, Ericsson, Compaq, HP team to push broadband wireless

New trade body will throw its weight around in standards arena

European mobile phone suppliers Ericsson, Nokia and Siemens seem to be the ringleaders in a new trade body intended (ostensibly) to promote the European GSM standard at a global level. But informed sources suggest that the new body is effectively an alliance put together to help the companies and their allies steer the direction of the next generation broadband cellular standards. And there are some intriguing names among the first 21 members of the Global Mobile Suppliers Association (GSA - full list below). Compaq and HP aren't companies you'd ordinarily expect to be founder members of a mobile phone trade body, but if they're putting their weight behind GSM, it would seem convergence is almost upon us - or will be, when PC companies start to build pocket broadband wireless devices. Schlumberger meanwhile must be saluting for the smart card market, while Scientific Games may be thinking about what it could do with all that bandwidth in the mass market. The absence of Alcatel and Motorola may or may not be significant, as the GSA expects membership to grow, so they may be along any day now. Bet on it that Qualcomm won't be. But what's the GSA going to do? Its terms of reference are to promote GSM world-wide, to promote it as the "de facto basis for the delivery of third generation mobile wide-band multimedia services, within the context of global ITU IMT-2000 initiatives" (our italics). It intends to "co-operate with and complement other bodies… including the GSM MoU Association, UMTS Forum, ETSI SMG and ECTEL TMS." Indeed. So its intention is to lobby for a global standard (IMT-2000, which the ITU is deciding on) that accepts GSM as the de facto leader and is designed accordingly. It's also going to be nice (sic) to the various standards bodies that define the standards and input to them, but it's going to throw its weight around, making sure those bodies know which companies and standards have the market share, and cut their cloth accordingly. So it's no more Mr Nice Giant Cellphone Manufacturer. Members at launch: Aethos Communication Systems, ARC Cores, Benefon, BTI, Compaq/Tandem Computers, Comptel, Convergys Corporation, Ericsson, Filtronic Comtek, GTE Telecommunication Services Inc, Hewlett-Packard, Italtel, Logica Aldiscon, Nokia, Siemens AG, Schlumberger, Saville Systems, Scientific Games Intl, Texas Instruments, Wavecom, and X-Net. ® Click for more stories

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