OMA unveils new mobile and wireless specs

The Open Mobile Alliance (OMA), a standards group for the mobile and wireless industry, unveiled eight new technical specifications for mobile data applications during last week's Comdex trade show in Las Vegas. The new specs -- which cover mobile browsing, content download, e-mail notifications and instant messaging -- are designed to allow developers to write applications once that can be deployed across a range of wireless phones and handheld devices.

The new specs, which the OMA ( calls ''enablers,'' represent the first phase of a three-phase release program, according to alliance officals. The next phase the alliance calls for is conducting interoperability testing; and the final phase involves an interoperability release designed to confirm that all specifications have passed end-to-end tests.

''Based on key market and customer requirements, the enablers designed by OMA will ultimately contribute to the creation of mobile solutions that allow both consumers and business users of mobile services to enjoy greater performance, better interoperability and enhanced ease of use,'' said Mark Cataldo, the newly elected chair of the OMA Technical Plenary.

Specifically, the eight areas covered by the new specs include:
* Mobile browsing
* MMS (Multimedia Messaging Service)
* DRM (digital rights management)
* DNS (Domain Name Server) lookup via mobile devices
* Mobile content download
* E-mail push notifications
* User/device profiles
* IMPS (Instant Messaging and Presence Services)

The first devices supporting the new specifications are expected by mid-2003. The instant messaging specs have already passed interoperability tests, according to the alliance.

Adoption of the new specs is optional among the OMA's membership, which currently boasts about 300.

Lead by Microsoft and Nokia, the OMA has been absorbing smaller industry groups. It recently completed the integration of several, including the Location Interoperability Forum (LIF), the MMS Interoperability Group (MMS-IOP), the SyncML Initiative and the Wireless Village Initiative. The Mobile Wireless Internet Forum (MWIF) and the Mobile Games Interoperability Forum (MGIF) have also announced their intention to join OMA.

The OMA was itself the result of the merger of two other standards bodies: the Open Mobile Architecture initiative, which was established by Nokia last year, and the older WAP Forum, of which Microsoft is a member.

Many of the specifications announced last week were actually developed by the groups the OMA has acquired. The browsing technology, for example, is a product of the WAP Forum, and the instant messaging specs were developed by the Wireless Village initiative.

About the Author

John K. Waters is a freelance writer based in Silicon Valley. He can be reached at


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