Japan's Hitachi and Sanyo Electric have begun pushing a jointly developed content protection system as a new standard for music distribution via cellular telephones.
The system, UDAC-MB (Universal Distribution with Access Control - Media Base), was proposed to a meeting of the Secure Digital Music Initiative (SDMI) in Los Angeles, California, on Friday. It was developed by the two companies and Fujitsu and is being promoted as a system specifically for use in music over cellphone services.
The partners say the existing SDMI specification for portable devices, which was formalised in July 1999 and describes the technical specification for portable digital audio players, is not optimised for wireless applications. Their system, the companies contend, was developed specifically with wireless applications where a cellphone and not a PC is used to download the music and so is better suited for use in such services.
The first such commercial services are expected to be launched this year in Japan. Air Media, which is owned by cellular operator NTT DoCoMo and electronics maker Matsushita Electric Industrial, plans to launch a commercial service later this year sending digital music through mobile telephones to specially developed terminals.
Such services are not expected to become widely popular until the launch of third generation wireless services which support download speeds of up to 384K bits per second -- some 6 times today's fastest cellular data service. NTT DoCoMo is expected to become the first cellular carrier in the world to launch third generation commercial service when it switches on a new network in May 2001.