Interoperable MMS Seen In Summer

By Joseph Palenchar On May 17 2004 - 6:00am

Wireless carriers anticipate a surge in the use of revenue-boosting Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS) by subscribers beginning this summer, when select carriers are expected to begin launching interoperable MMS for the first time, said Chris Pearson, president of 3G Americas.

MMS adds voice, still images, graphics, video and audio to wireless text messages. With interoperable MMS, messages originated by subscribers on one carrier's network can be sent to subscribers of other networks, even between a GSM network and a CDMA network. "It wasn't until [text-based] SMS [short messaging service] was interoperable among carriers and among technologies did SMS really take off," Pearson noted.

Based on technical recommendations developed by 3G Americas at the end of last year, Pearson said he expects interoperable GSM-to-GSM MMS to become commercially available in the summer in the U.S. and in the Americas. Based on joint technical standards released this month by 3G Americas and the CDMA Development Group (CDG), Pearson said he expects some carriers to offer GSM-to-CDMA network MMS in the summer.

As for CDMA-to-CDMA MMS messaging, no U.S. carriers currently offer interoperable service, a Verizon spokesperson said.

Interoperable SMS didn't arrive in the United States for years after SMS's initial U.S. launch, Pearson said, "Operators learned that it's better to get ahead of the curve," he said. He described a "hockey stick explosion" in SMS use after inter-technology interoperability was launched. Now, about 2.5 billion SMS messages are sent per month in the U.S., Pearson said, citing CTIA statistics.

3G Americas expects GSM carriers outside the Americas to adopt the groups' MMS standards, enabling worldwide MMS interoperability. In Europe, interoperable GSM-to-GSM MMS has been available for about a year or two, Pearson said.

Worldwide interoperable SMS is available from most carriers throughout the world, he noted.

3G Americas focuses on promoting the deployment of GSM, related data technologies, and Wideband-CDMA in the Americas. The CDMA Development Group (CDG) fosters the worldwide deployment of CDMA technologies.

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