Electronic Design

Cell-Phone Makers Implement Swappable Instant Messaging

Four major cellular-phone manufacturers—LM Ericsson, Alcatel SA, Motorola Inc., and Siemens AG—have agreed to implement the Enhanced Messaging Service (EMS) standard to strengthen the messaging capabilities between their phones.

Since the EMS standard is open, operators and content suppliers will be able to launch new value-added services. Cellular customers will be able to download and exchange screensavers. Also, users will be able to download images and ring melodies from the Internet. These images and melodies could then be included in EMS text messages and swapped between phones made by the companies.

The EMS technology expands on the Short Message Service (SMS) standard, which lets mobile phone users send simple text messages to one another. These messages are typed on the cell phone's handset, as numbers on the keypad correspond to letters. EMS messages are sent over the same infrastructure as regular SMS messages. This compatibility will ease the deployment of the EMS.

According to the companies, EMS is an evolutionary step between SMS and the full Multimedia Messaging Service. The EMS standard was defined by the Third-Generation Partnership Project (3GPP). This body also standardized GSM and SMS for use in cellular phones.

The companies expect to ship the first batch of EMS-enabled cellular phones later this year. For more information, see www.alcatel.com, www.motorola.com, www.ericsson.com, or www.siemens.com.

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