Logica, Orange try out mobile multimedia messaging

French mobile phone operator Orange SA and software and systems developer Logica PLC have teamed on a live trial implementation of MMS (Mobile Multimedia Services), Logica announced Thursday.

The trial is to take place over Orange's GPRS (General Packet Radio Service) network in the U.K. using Logica's Multimedia Messaging Service Center, Logica said in a statement.

MMS-capable handsets allow users to send and receive multimedia content such as JPEG and MP3 files, as well as things like images clipped from a digital camera.

Logica and Orange could not immediately be reached for comment.

Logica has been working with handset makers and messaging system vendors Nokia Corp., Motorola Inc., Siemens AG and L.M. Ericsson Telephone Co. as well as software and systems developers CMG PLC and Comverse Technology Inc. to support MMS as the successor to the highly popular SMS (Short Message Service) text messages.

The underlying technology for the two services is completely different, with SMS only supporting plain text messages up to 160 characters in length, while the size of MMS messages is arbitrary.

However, keeping the user interface of MMS closer to that of SMS will increase the take up of the new technology, Logica said in June. People who already feel comfortable sending and receiving SMS text messages are more likely to use the MMS technology if they do not have to learn how to use a new interface, the company argued then.

Orange will use the U.K. MMS trial as an opportunity to develop and test a range of MMS services and the potential profitability of those services, Logica said.

In October, Nokia, the world's largest supplier of mobile phones, and Sony Ericsson Mobile Communications AB announced that they will begin testing the interoperability of MMS services and applications between different manufacturers next year.

Last month, Nokia also announced it was also working with NTT DoCoMo Inc. to jointly develop MMS by 2003. Part of that project, scheduled to be completed next year, is to develop Java technology that can offer an execution environment where more user-friendly applications for MMS can be created.

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Laura Rohde

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