Wireless featured at Telecom 99 show

Every four years, telecom vendors and service providers gather in Geneva to show off their latest products and technologies.

While the more than 1,000 vendors that set up shop at the Telecom 99 show last month represented nearly every aspect of the telecom world, many chose to show the nearly 200,000 attendees new wireless software, hardware or services. The following were some of the highlights:

America Online and Motorola struck a deal in which Motorola will build AOL’s Instant Messenger software technology into its Wireless Access Protocol (WAP) handsets. WAP is a protocol used for sending data to and from wireless devices.

Windows CE and Palm users can already link to AOL’s chat service, but this deal marks the first time that the software is being integrated with wireless voice devices.

Oracle announced Portal-to-Go software, a k a “Project Panama,” which sits on top of Oracle’s Application Server and Oracle8i database.

The software will let users with wireless access devices link to their corporate or service provider’s servers to use specific applications or download e-mail. Instead of having to use a microbrowser, Oracle’s software will let users access applications without downloading additional software to their handheld devices. The software acts like a client by setting up cookies, which are stored on the servers. Oracle’s Portal-to-Go is expected to be available next month for US$19,000 to US$550,000 for 200 to 11,000 user licences, respectively.

Microsoft CEO Bill Gates demonstrated a prototype smart phone during his speech at the show. To avoid any embarrassing demonstration snafus, Gates accessed his company’s Web site over diAX’s wireless network at 9.6Kbps, but the pages were already cached.

Microsoft says it will start trials of its smart phone prototype sometime next year, but the company does not have a firm date as to when the device will be available.

Microsoft also announced the latest version of its microbrowser, dubbed the Internet Cellular Smart Access (ICSA). Service providers offering Global Service Mobility (GSM) wireless networks can offer prepaid Internet access services to users of GSM handheld devices running ICSA. Service providers must run Microsoft’s Windows NT BackOffice suite, which the handheld devices communicate with via ICSA technology.

(The IDG News Service contributed to this story.)