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Companies trial multimedia handset technology

Orange and Logica have teamed up on a live trial of mobile multimedia services (MMS).

The trial will take place over Orange's GPRS network in the UK using Logica's Multimedia Messaging Service Centre.

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

Logica has been working with handset manufacturers and messaging system vendors Nokia, Motorola, Siemens and Ericsson - as well as software and systems developers CMG and Comverse Technology - to support MMS as the successor to the popular SMS text messages.

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

However, the user interface of MMS will be similar to that of SMS, Logica said. People who feel comfortable with 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.

Orange will use the trial to develop and test a range of MMS services, and assess the potential profitability of those services, Logica said.

Nokia, the world's largest supplier of mobile phones, and Sony Ericsson announced in October that they would begin testing the interoperability of MMS services and applications between different manufacturers in 2002.

Nokia said in November that it was also working with NTT DoCoMo to develop MMS by 2003. Part of that project, scheduled for completion 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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