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Monday, February 15, 2010
Operators Unite to Challenge Apple's Store


Twenty-four leading telecommunications operators have formed the Wholesale Applications Community, an alliance to build an open platform that will deliver applications to all mobile phone users in an effort to compete with Apple's successful apps store.

America Movil, AT&T, Bharti Airtel, China Mobile, China Unicom, Deutsche Telekom, KT, mobilkom austria group, MTN Group, NTT DoCoMo, Orange, Orascom Telecom, Softbank Mobile, Telecom Italia, Telefonica, Telenor Group, TeliaSonera, SingTel, SK Telecom, Sprint, Verizon Wireless, VimpelCom, Vodafone and Wind are committed to create an ecosystem for the development and distribution of mobile and internet applications irrespective of device or technology.

Together, these operators have access to over three billion customers around the world. The GSMA and three of the world's largest device manufacturers - LG Electronics, Samsung and Sony Ericsson - also support this initiative.

"The Wholesale Applications Community aims to unite a fragmented marketplace and create an open industry platform that benefits everybody ? from applications developers and network operators to mobile phone users themselves," the GSMA said in a statement.

The alliance's stated goal is to create a wholesale applications ecosystem that ? from day one ? will establish a simple route to market for developers to deliver the latest applications and services to the widest possible base of customers around the world.

"The GSMA is fully supportive the Wholesale Applications Community, which will build a new, open ecosystem to spur the creation of applications that can be used regardless of device, operating system or operator," said Rob Conway, CEO and Member of the Board, GSMA. "This approach is completely in line with the principles of the GSMA, and in fact leverages the work we have already undertaken on open network APIs (OneAPI). This is tremendously exciting news for our industry and will serve to catalyse the development of a range of innovative cross-device, cross-operator applications."

Mobile application developers currently face a high level of fragmentation in the industry, in terms of both technology platforms, and individual operators' working practices. Developers want to meet the largest possible addressable market, as efficiently as possible, and the Wholesale Applications Community initiative can meet these criteria by providing a simple, single point of access to a large number of operator storefronts.

The alliance plans to initially use both the JIL and OMTP BONDI requirements, evolving these standards into a common standard within the next 12 months. Ultimately, the allliance will collectively work with the W3C for a common standard based on its solution to truly developers can create applications that port across mobile device platforms, and in the future between fixed and mobile devices.

The alliance will serve as one point of contact for the industry and is open to all relevant parties - from telecommunications operators and device manufacturers to internet service providers and application software developers.

GSMA to support global solution for Voice over LTE

In related news, the GSMA also today announced it has adopted the work of the One Voice Initiative to drive the global mobile industry towards a standard way of delivering voice and messaging services for Long-Term Evolution (LTE). The GSMA's Voice over LTE (VoLTE) initiative has the backing of more than 40 organisations from across the mobile ecosystem, including many of the world?s leading mobile operators, handset manufacturers and equipment vendors, all of whom support the principle of a single, IMS-based voice solution for next-generation Mobile Broadband networks. The GSMA added that ot would lead the development of the specifications that would enable interconnection and international roaming between LTE networks, and will complete that work by Q1 2011.

LTE is the first all-Internet Protocol (IP) network technology to be backed by the mobile industry and will be used initially to provide very fast mobile data services. For LTE to support voice and messaging, an IP-based solution that will offer the same interoperable experience that 2G and 3G wireless technologies offer today is required. IMS (IP multimedia subsystem) can achieve this, and supports all voice call service features such as call waiting, call hold and call barring, and is highly scalable to serve very large subscriber bases. IMS also provides mobile operators with the ability to offer services that can integrate voice calls with enhanced, rich features such as presence, instant messaging and video content, delivered in an interoperable and multi-operator environment.

Mobile operators supporting the initiative include 3 Group, AT&T, Bell Canada, China Mobile, Deutsche Telekom/T-Mobile, KDDI, mobilkom austria, MTS, NTT DoCoMo, Orange, SKT, SoftBank, Telecom Italia, Telecom New Zealand, Telef?nica, Telenor, TeliaSonera, Verizon Wireless and Vodafone. Handset manufacturers and equipment vendors supporting VoLTE include Acme Packet, Alcatel-Lucent, Aylus, Camiant, Cisco, Colibra, Communigate, Comneon, Ericsson, Fujitsu, Genband, Huawei, LG, Motorola, Movial, Mu, NEC, Nokia, Nokia Siemens Networks, Qualcomm, RADVISION, Samsung, Sony Ericsson and Tekelec. Industry organisations such as the NGMN Alliance, 3GPP and IMTC also support this initiative and agree there should be industry agreement on a harmonised way to implement voice over LTE based on existing standards.

More than 74 mobile operators from around the world have committed to plans, trials or deployments for LTE. The world?s first commercial LTE network was launched recently in Sweden by TeliaSonera, with Verizon Wireless in the US, NTT DoCoMo in Japan and China Telecom set to follow suit in 2010. China Mobile also plans to launch its TD-LTE network this year at EXPO 2010 in Shanghai. GSMA believed that LTE is widely regarded as the de facto Mobile Broadband technology that will be adopted by the vast majority of mobile operators globally and is expected to experience substantial growth over the next three to five years. Infonetics Research predicts the number of global LTE connections to exceed 72 million by 2013.


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