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Nokia's OMA may take on wireless interoperability burden

WAP fiasco avoidance

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ComputerWire: IT Industry Intelligence

The Nokia Corp initiated Open Mobile Architecture (OMA) group could take on some of the responsibilities of a standards body in its quest to achieve complete interoperability among wireless applications platforms and devices and to prevent a repeat of the WAP fiasco,

Tony Cripps writes

.

Dr Sami Inkinen, VP technical architecture with Nokia Mobile Software, told ComputerWire that although it remains unclear exactly how the OMA will function in future it may be compelled to help achieve interoperability between different mobile technologies.

While Inkinen said that interoperability within the various technologies that make up the spectrum of future wireless technologies - for instance mobile internet (WAP2.0/XHTML), mobile Java (J2ME), multimedia messaging (MMS), synchronization, location-based services and multimedia streaming - is progressing well, achieving the same level of compatibility where those technologies intersect is far from easy.

For instance, WAP can be used as a search facility and bearer service to find and deliver new J2ME applications, and many of the services will rely on location-based technologies for positioning information.

"MMS [interoperability] has been demonstrated for quite some time and usability will be good. And there is good progress on WAP on GPRS," said Inkinen. "But much work is needed to make these things work together on top of [deeper technologies such as] location based services."

Precisely what role the OMA will take in making this happen has yet to be seen - and Inkinen would not speculate - but it is clear that a great deal of work remains to be done to achieve the 100% interoperability goal. Inkinen said the OMA will attempt to keep the number of standards adopted to a minimum to aid the effort, although it may add new ones if they fill a functional gap.

Interoperability within a particular technology category will remain the province of the appropriate standards body, such as the 3GPP, Wireless Village and the SyncML Forum.

The OMA was announced by Espoo, Finland-based Nokia in November 2001 and boasts an impressive array of supporters. These include - among others - server software vendors IBM, BEA Systems, Openwave Systems and Hewlett-Packard, mobile operators such as NTT DoCoMo, Vodafone, AT&T Wireless, mmO2 and Telefonica Moviles, and device manufacturers including Motorola, Sony Ericsson, Sharp and Matsushita. Microsoft has not yet joined the alliance but Inkinen said the door remains open to it.

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