ITU: Sun works to ease carriers’ Java rollouts

If Sun Microsystems Inc.’s meetings this week with potential customers at ITU Telecom World 2003 in Geneva go as planned, the initiatives and products the company introduces Tuesday should have an impact across cellular carriers, enterprises and mobile application developers.

Sun aims to help operators rapidly roll out new services and handsets. Also on Tuesday, it will unveil a joint offering with Lucent Technologies Inc. to give enterprises greater productivity through unified communications. All the pieces will be in place and available by the end of this year or earlier, according to Sun.

At the heart of most of Sun’s mobile plans coming out this week is Java, which the company said now runs on about 120 million mobile handsets. Making it easier to certify new Java phones and software and roll them out should expand use of the technology, according to Sun executives.

To make that happen, Sun on Tuesday will introduce a development program, a content server and a deployment package.

The Java Mobility Advantage program will provide resources to developers at carriers and mobile content companies that want to create Java-based applications and services for mobile phones. Sun also has assembled a network of testing organizations so carriers and content providers can outsource testing of software before it goes out to customers. Hardware testing is also part of the initiative: Sun and several major handset vendors have developed a test suite for Java-enabled devices that handset makers and mobile operators can license. It will become generally available this week.

Sun also has teamed up with partners to create the iForce Solution for Telecommunications Service Delivery, a combination of hardware and software for wireless operators to create, deploy and manage new data services. It will let the operators integrate those new services with existing ones, so a new service such as messaging can take advantage of existing ones such as voice mail, said David Orain, a telecommunications industry business manager at Sun. The system will be available to carriers by the end of the year. Prices will vary based on the size of the deployment, Orain said.

To get Java-based and other data applications out to mobile customers, Sun is introducing the Sun ONE (Open Network Environment) Content Delivery Server, a software platform based on technology Sun acquired through its acquisition of Pixo Inc. earlier this year. The platform isn’t limited to Java-based applications or content and can support most data-enabled phones, he said. It can be used to distribute offerings such as ring tones and screen wallpaper to a variety of types of handsets. The Content Delivery Server is available to carriers now, priced on a per-subscriber basis.

Also at ITU, Sun is discussing the iForce Solution for Enhanced Communications, which it will offer jointly with Lucent. It will be able to bring together many communication and information tools in a service hosted entirely by the carrier. With such a service, a unified portal on an enterprise employee’s PC could include a software-based phone, voice mail, e-mail, messaging, calendar and directory, Orain said. Such a service could be adapted to work with IP phones or traditional phones. That offering also will be available by year’s end. Pricing has not yet been set, he said.

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