Mobile Services FAQ
What is the Mobile
The GSM Association is concerned about fragmentation in the handset market
and the inability to depend on specific handset features which it believes
are necessary for the success of its members.
To address this fragmentation, the GSMA has published feature guidelines
for mobile phones that aim to help ensure that operators could depend on a
certain set of consistent features and services in mobile handsets. This
will allow the operators and content providers to focus on building
'globally available compelling applications that will excite users and
create opportunities for new revenue streams based on a common application
What are the core
elements that M-Services will cover?
At a high level, the requirements in the M-Services Guidelines cover 1)
definition of a Graphical User Interface for WAP browsers, 2) a common
framework for downloading consumer-oriented content, and 3) multimedia
messaging. Additionally, the Guidelines suggest usage models for a number
of common applications in phones.
What are the timelines
for this initiative?
The GSMA approved the M-Services guidelines in late May 2001. The
guidelines lists what it believes are conformance recommendations for
phones and have made its recommendations freely available to all
manufacturers of handsets and software developers. It is now up to the
handset manufacturers to implement M-Services into their handsets in a
Who will be affected?
The M-Services Guidelines will potentially positively benefit many
operators, content developers, and handset vendors in addition to
consumers. Many operators and content developers are already designing
services based on these common handset features to be available this year.
Of course, consumers will be positively affected - and hopefully attracted
to a host of new and compelling service offerings when they learn about
them through advertising and word of mouth.
Why is this
announcement important and what will it mean for the future of the mobile
The existence of the M-Services Guidelines will allow operators to focus
on building compelling services that will work across a broad range of
devices. The M-Services Guidelines will also serve as a bridge to WAP 2.0
services based on high-bandwidth 2.5G and 3G networks as the
infrastructure and devices are made available over the next few years.
Which companies have signed up to the new
The GSM Association has received overwhelming support from its operator
members for the M-Services initiative.
Openwave has committed to support these requirements as well, both through
licensing of the Openwave Mobile Browser to manufacturers and licensing of
the Openwave Download Fun Server and other infrastructure products to
operators. Additionally, Openwave has agreed to license essential
intellectual property specified in M-Services to third party vendors who
desire to add support for those protocols to their browsers and servers.
Additionally, and most importantly, most leading GSM handset manufacturers
will provide handsets based on the M-Services guidelines. Companies that
have announced support include Alcatel, Ericsson, Motorola, Nokia, Siemens,
Samsung, and Sagem, among others.
Who stands to benefit
most from M-Services?
Consumers will benefit the most from the M-Services Guidelines - they will
enjoy a whole new world of consistently available mobile Internet
services, and enhanced functionality via this initiative. However, as a
broad industry initiative, the aim is that consumers, operators, suppliers
will all benefit from a market which can deliver enhanced data services.
Is this a new
The M-Services Guidelines is not a standard. It is however founded on
existing standards and protocols that exist today. The set of M-Services
guidelines together make up a common baseline of features that application
developers and content providers can depend on in designing and developing
How will this impact 2.5G and 3G. Does this mean that the carriers will be
able to recoup their investment in 3G licences'
Certainly one of the goals is for operators to generate revenues based on
their existing 2G and 2.5G networks. The philosophy is to build compelling
services on existing networks and bandwidth now - and upgrade those
services to higher bandwidth when their network is there and there is
compelling new content that requires that high bandwidth.
The successful rollout of M-Services may reduce the false idea that 3G is
required for successful revenue-generating data services, allowing 3G
networks to be rolled out at a more rational pace as demand for high
What will happen if
handset manufacturers do not wish to comply with the guidelines?
All manufacturers of GSM/ GPRS handsets have been provided with the same
opportunities to introduce M-Services into their GPRS product offerings
and the guidelines are readily available to all manufacturers of handsets.
Ratification and publication of the M-Services Guidelines by the GSMA does
not mean that it is a requirement for handset manufacturers to support
those guidelines. Individual operators will specify their specific
requirements when they sign purchase contracts with vendors. Some
operators may insist on purchasing only phones that meet the M-Services
Guidelines, while others may purchase a mix of handsets for their various
More importantly, the M-Services Guidelines lists a number of options in
key features, such as the graphical user interface and the download
capability. Operators who desire one option over the other must state
their requirement explicitly.
If a manufacturer decides not to meet the operator's specific
requirements, then the operator will need to make the decision about
whether or not to buy handsets from that vendor.
Will there end up being two systems, as happened
with Beta and VHS, for example?
The optional features in M-Services guidelines are included specifically
as temporary measures until standards in development can be completed. We
do not expect a long-term bifurcation and battle between systems. Instead,
developers and service providers who want to offer compelling services
today may use the systems available today - WML 1.2 with GUI extensions
and Download Fun. Other solutions may be offered as well based upon the
Will this lead to confusion and a slowdown in application development'
Motivated service providers and developers who want to take advantage of
the new features will welcome the opportunity to leverage these temporary
solutions. Others may choose to stay with the existing WML 1.2 mark-up now
or wait for WML 2.0 next year. But we do not see a slowdown in application
How will developers
Developers gain in two ways. First, the requirement for handsets to
support a Graphical User Interface means that they can develop more usable
and intuitive content for devices. This increases user satisfaction and
increases the likelihood of users continuing to use the service.
Second, the Download capability allows content developers to offer content
to be downloaded for a fee. Through arrangement with operators, they can
tie in to operator's billing systems to make it easy to collect payments
for the services provided. The common application framework means that
content providers would not need to significantly modify their
applications for use on different operator networks.
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