Sprint looks for mobile Java inspiration in Asia

US wireless carrier Sprint is looking to Japan and South Korea for inspiration and content for its forthcoming high-speed mobile...

US wireless carrier Sprint is looking to Japan and South Korea for inspiration and content for its forthcoming high-speed mobile Internet service.

"The fact that we are here [at Sun Microsystems' JavaOne conference in Japan] shows the US wireless market is open for your business," Paul Reddick, Sprint's vice-president of business development, told a hall full of Java developers.

Sprint plans to emulate NTT DoCoMo's success with Java and its I-mode mobile Internet platform, said Reddick, crediting the ability to bill for premium content as being key to the success of I-mode.

Under DoCoMo's system, the company collects the money from consumers through their monthly bills. This means it is economical and easy, for both content providers and users, to pay small amounts of money, typically between $1 (£0.70) and $2.50 per month in the case of I-mode. DoCoMo also charges a flat commission of 9% for handling the billing.

Wireless Internet services have typically been less successful in the US and Europe than in Asia. However, Reddick said this does not mean consumers will not eventually adopt them.

Sprint is upgrading its code division multiple access (CDMA) network, scheduled for the summer of 2002, when the company plans to switch on a CDMA2000 1x system that will allow packet data transmission at speeds of up to 144Kbps.

A further upgrade to 288Kbps is planned for the end of 2002, said Reddick, adding that the carrier's future plans call for speeds of up to 2.4Mbps in 2003.

The company's Java plans centre on Sun's Java 2 Micro Edition (J2ME), a version of Java for mobile and portable devices, and the Mobile Information Device Profile (MIDP), a set of JavaTM application program interfaces that pair with the connected limited device configuration (CLDC) and make the runtime environment for mobile devices.

The basic foundation is common across all carriers running Java on mobile phones. One exception is the proprietary class libraries, which each carrier has developed to cover control of functions not specified in MIDP.

Reddick said that Sprint would, like other carriers, have its own extensions. These will be published, although this means that applets will not be able to run on the handsets of other carriers without modification.

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