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Interoperability for enriched MMS

Jari Alvinin Chairman of the Open Mobile Alliance speaks to Adam Baddeley about the OMA’s latest specification Multi-Messaging Services (MMS) version 1.2 and recent developments in the organisation.

Jari Alvinen is a Director, Strategic Architecture for Nokia Mobile Software, based in Tampere, Finland. He is responsible for Nokia standardization activities in the Open Mobile Alliance Ltd. He has been with Nokia since 1999 and was formerly Manager of Technology Research and Architecture at Fujitsu – TeamWARE, Wireless Solutions.

Mr. Alvinen has been working with mobile applications since 1994 and has participated in mobile standardization since 1998. He is the current Chairman of the Board of the Open Mobile Alliance Ltd.

Mr. Alvinen holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science as well as Bachelor of Science degree in Telecommunications.

Q: The MMS version 1.2 was launched on November 11th. What will this new standard bring to the market over and above v1.1?
A: The versions from 1.1 to 1.2 beef up the interoperability aspects and we have introduced message classes that are better at facilitating the services the operators feel they need. From 1.2 they will now have a better understanding of the capabilities of the devices and this will improve both the interoperability and consumers experience.

Q: What will users see when they use Version 1.2 and what will it mean for users and providers?
A: You will be able to enrich the whole MMS experience with voice and video. What you tend to get today with MMS is picture imaging with text, so basically Version 1.2 enriches the experience. In version 1.1 you have still image, black graphics, speech audio and text. When you go to 1.2 it is going to be a three-pronged approach. You will have image rich, video basic and video rich. Image rich will be still image bitmap graphics, visual audio text and synthetic audio. On video basic, you would have bitmap, bitmap graphics, visual audio text and synthetic audio. Video rich would be the same list – still image, bitmap graphics video auto text and synthetic audio video. One of the MMS criteria is the size of messaging you can support. We have put together interoperability factors. This is actually one of the good things about 1.2. You have handsets out there with variable capabilities regarding the size of content they can handle on a particular MMS message. We have set some ground rules on what the minimum and maximum size we can expect and that helps the device manufacturers to ensure their handsets can comply

Q: How does this fit into the OMA wider portfolio of work in other areas?
A: MMS is one of several enablers that we have in our bag but we need to ensure something more - what we tend to called the Multi-enabled interoperability aspects. This actually means that the enablers are able to work with each other and complement each other. For example in the MMS case there are tie ins to other enablers which we have developed in the OMA such as the User identity profile, DRM (Digital Rights Management) and others. In the big picture MMS is just one area the OMA are working on, but you can see from the example of industry that there is a lot of focus on the progress of MMS and how we can improve interoperability. This is inevitably one of the main focus areas for the OMA.

Q: What are the other focus areas?
A: A good example would be DRM. This is because it enables the actual content creators and services providers to trust that their content is not misused and that they feel comfortable giving the content to the mobile users and operators.

Q: How is DRM developing?
A: What we have today, which has already been published, is the first version of the DRM. It gives you a simple approach to rights management such as forward locking for instance. With Version 2 we have moved towards distribution aspects enabling - as I outlined earlier – more value content and content that can be distributed, making sure that rights are not compromised. The OMA have been working with the telecomms industry, RAA and similar organisations so we are in close contact via liaison contracts with the content industry as well as the regulation and public policy aspects. The OMA have not been deeply engaged in these regulatory and policy areas because there does not seem to be a real need for it just now.

Q: Do you anticipate more work in that area?
A: Looking at it from the service perspective, I do not really see that there is a need at the moment. Regulators tend to see and look at fair competition in the market place and whether there are issues such as privacy issues. Those would be the areas that regulators would get on board. I do not see the need for DMR where the regulators play a role.

Q: The OMA works closely with other organisations to achieve it goals. How did your organisation do this in the case of MMS 1.2?
A: There are various organisations that work together. From a technical level- the actual specification level- 3G PP and PP2 are good liaison partners for OMA. If you think about the requirements and business need perspectives, you have organisations like the CDG (CDMA Development Group) and GSM Association (GSMA). We have good ongoing relationships with these organisations and MSS is practical, good example of the need to work together. If you look at 3G PP, PP2 and OMA we all work in the area of MMS specifications so the important thing is that we have now come together at the same table and have started discussions on how we can consolidate our efforts.

Q: What sort of action are you taking?
A: We had a workshop in London last November, which was very successful. The OMA, 3GPP, PP2, CDG and GSMA were there. We had good dialogue and I believe there was a good consensus on how we should move forward – by consolidating all our efforts for MMS into the OMA.

Q: How do you see the OMA evolving?
A: The OMA is just over a year old. The first year we had very focused efforts on getting the organisation up and running, and the operational and administrative functions took a lot of attention. Meanwhile the technical groups were able to contribute to specifications and get deliverables out. Now we have all the procedures and the organisation in place.

The OMA is a voluntary organisation. We have procedures governing how we start new work items enabling specifications that will hopefully lead to new services for the end users. That requires a somewhat dynamic organisation for the OMA particularly in the technical area. Today we have a technical arm with 16 working groups in areas like MMS. As to what will happen in the future, work items will be completed and we might decide that we do not need certain groups anymore or their functions are transferred to other groups or new items coming in. There is a level of dynamism inherent in the way the organisation is built and it now works very well.

Q: The new MMS standard has been rolled out. In what further areas do you expect standards to be published in the near future?
A: We have started work on our plan for next year – to find the next focus areas. We have DRM coming up and we are working on mobile web services and gaming for instance, but there are also various evolutionary changes ahead. We have 16 working groups and two committees, and for the most part all of them are working on new specifications. In the next year you will see a number of rollouts including the publication of the second version of DRM specifications.

The OMA tries to be as open as possible. As soon as work items are approved for technical work we will make the information publicly available.

For more information:
Please contact: Jari Alvinin, jalvinin@omaorg.org
Or visit: www.openmobilealliance.org


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