Wireless standards groups merge

By Grant Gross

Two groups that already have worked closely together on developing wireless security standards have decided to formally join forces. By mid-June, the PAM Forum, a consortium working on presence and availability (P&A) security standards within the wireless industry, will become part of the Parlay Group, a multi-vendor industry consortium encouraging common standards across wireless and other networks.

The PAM Forum, created in early 2000, will become the presence and availability management (PAM) working group within the Parlay Group, which has wireless vendors and operators as its membership base. Members include Telefonaktiebolaget LM Ericsson, Hewlett-Packard Co., Lucent Technologies Inc. and NTT DoCoMo Inc. The two groups announced the merger Tuesday.

Guda Venkatesh, chief technology officer of Teltier Technologies, said the move makes sense because it will cause less confusion about standards among wireless vendors and operators. Venkatesh, chairman of the previous P&A workgroup within the Parlay Group and the technical chair of the PAM Forum, said the two groups were already working together in an informal way, with the Parlay Group looking to the PAM Forum for P&A-related standards.

“We thought, why not do this right with one organization?” Venkatesh said.

Presence and availability standards focus on security and privacy on wireless devices, including issues such as keeping unauthorized users off wireless networks. The PAM Forum has worked on a specification consisting of APIs designed to allow wireless networks to securely share information.

Members of the PAM Forum tend to be application developers and vendors, while the Parlay Group is made up of vendors and wireless operators, Venkatesh said. The combination of the three groups into one should lead to a “stronger evolution of development,” he said.

The Parlay Group was formed to encourage the development of open APIs that enable the use of applications that operate across multiple networking platforms, including wireless and IP networks.

The consolidation of the two organizations will aid in the development and definition of a framework for standards and specifications needed to run P&A-related applications across multiple networks, according to a press release from the groups. Parts of the PAM Forum’s specifications have already been integrated into the Parlay specification and consequently accepted by the Third Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) and 3GPP2, the worldwide groups developing technical specifications for a third generation mobile system.

The Parlay Group also has a working relationship with the Open Mobile Alliance (OMA) Ltd., Venkatesh said, and the two groups are working together on wireless standards.

The PAM group in Parlay will continue to work on mapping of PAM specifications to protocols including OMA’s Instant Messaging and Presence Services (IMPS) and Session Initiation Protocol for Instant Messaging and Presence Leveraging Extensions (SIMPLE). The group will also address increasing requirements for privacy management of PAM data, Venkatesh said.

“A lot of the current work within the Parlay group now is directed towards encouragement of the developer community to develop programs based on these specifications,” he said. “Towards this end, the PAM working group will be working with the Parlay X working group that is developing a high-level set of interfaces to ease development efforts.”

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