Mobile phone makers team on mobile e-commerce

Motorola, L.M. Ericsson Telephone and Nokia yesterday announced a joint project to create an open industry framework for secure, mobile electronic transactions.

The companies announced the Mobile Electronics Transactions (MeT) technology here in London yesterday. Based on existing and emerging global technologies, the companies said that MeT will be to commerce security what WAP (Wireless Application Protocol) is to the Internet and the Bluetooth alliance's short-range wireless technology is to connectivity.

"We are launching the initiative because today's mobile commerce space runs the risk of becoming fragmented," said Matti Alahuhta, president of Nokia Mobile Phones.

The MeT initiative is based around four open standard core technologies. The WAP standard will be used for Internet access, WIM (Wireless Identity Module) will be used to specify the security element used, mobile public key infrastructure (PKI) will serve as the security framework, and the Bluetooth standard will be used for local communication. The initiative aims to create new standards as well.

The initiative will initially focus on GSM (global system for mobile communications) technology, but will eventually branch out to include other formats, such as iDEN (Integrated Dispatch Enhanced Network) and CDMA (code division multiple access) phones.

"Creating one standard for security is crucial to avoiding proprietary technology," said Jan Ahernbring, vice president, marketing and communications for Ericsson Mobile Communications.

"We are aiming to bridge the four differences between face to face transactions and e-commerce transactions: integrity, confidence, authentication and non-repudiation," said Rick Darnaby, senior vice president and general manager of Motorola Personal Communications Sector Europe, Middle East and Africa.

The executives said that they expect the MeT standards to actually begin soon after WIM becomes commonplace, probably in 2001.

They also denied that any companies would get shut out of the deal. "Nobody is going to be locked out in this initiative any more than they can get locked out of the WAP Forum or Bluetooth," said Dominic Strowbridge, technology marketing manager at EMEA, Motorola Personal Networks Group.

The three companies expect to issue technical details and more information on their Web sites by the end of next month. They plan to formulate an open framework before the third quarter, based on input from related industries.

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