Samsung, VoiceStream back Microsoft smart phones

Samsung Telecommunications and VoiceStream Wireless are teaming up to develop GPRS- (general packet radio service) compatible mobile phones that will incorporate Microsoft's Stinger software platform for smart phones, the companies announced last week.

GPRS is a packet-switched technology that allows for faster, always-on Internet access over current GSM (Global Service for Mobile Communications) networks. Sometimes referred to as 2.5G, the technology is considered by many to be an interim service before the introduction of even higher-speed 3G (third-generation) wireless networks.

The agreement, for which financial terms were not disclosed, is a multiyear, multiproduct deal that will incorporate Samsung wireless Internet capable handsets with VoiceStream's GSM (global system for mobile communications) US-based network and Microsoft's Stinger platform, the companies said in a joint statement.

Microsoft's Stinger provides handset makers with software and specifications for building Internet-enabled smart phones, in a similar way that Pocket PC provided an outline for building PDAs (personal digital assistants). The company competes in this area with Symbian, which makes the EPOC operating system, and Palm, which is also pushing its handheld computer platform for use in phones.

The first products to be produced by Microsoft, Samsung and Voice-Stream will incorporate WAP (Wireless Application Protocol), a technology that allows a limited amout of Web content to be accessed on portable devices.

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