RTFD Fights Fragmentation

By Joseph Schwartz

Los Gatos, CA -- A multinational forum of Internet wireless hardware & software manufacturers, service providers and content developers is rolling out a standards-based framework for multimedia streaming that is designed to ensure the interoperability of wireless products and services. On January 24, the Wireless Multimedia Forum released Version 1.0 of the Recommended Technical Framework Document (RTFD).This document recommends file format standards and streaming mechanisms for use in wireless applications, software and hardware ranging from servers to handsets.

If it is widely implemented, the recommended framework will reduce problems associated with fragmented, multiple standards for the same technical functions and will accelerate the development of the marketplace."You are not just buying one cell phone with access to one application and one vendor's content.If everyone remains with open standards, designers and developers would put applications out there that all handheld users could access and that all content providers could reach," explains Nancy Moss, program director of the Wireless Multimedia Forum.The Wireless Multimedia Forum is not a standard setting body, Moss adds.Instead, "it is our goal to influence standard setting bodies and to educate the industry and to put together an end-to-end recommendation."

To date, 60 companies are participating in the Wireless Multimedia Forum.Representatives of these 60 member companies are taking these recommendations back to their engineers, who will develop products, content, and services that are in line with the RTFD.Within the next six to 12 months, consumers should see the release of interoperable multimedia products such as video email, sports clips, news clips, and perhaps the wireless video dating that is very popular in Japan and other Asian nations, forum officials predict.

Version 1.0 of the Recommended Technical Framework focuses on streaming media.The second version, which is being developed, will focus on additional applications including downloadable multimedia and other streaming media functionality such as quality of service."We chose streaming media as the first application to embrace in RTFD because it is so widespread.People know streaming media from the wired world." The forum hopes to create the same familiarity among wireless consumers.

The following companies are members of the WMF:

Charter Members
Cisco Systems
e-Vue, Inc.
GEO Interactive Media
Hitachi Ltd.
i3 Mobile, Inc.
JiGami Corporation
Intel Corporation
Matsushita Communication
Mitsubishi Electric Corporation
NewsTakes, Inc.
Nortel Networks
Openwave Systems, Inc.
SignalSoft Corp
SolidStreaming, Inc.
Sprint PCS
Viridien Technologies
Zapex Research Ltd
Zucotto Systems

Executive Members
Avxing International Ltd.
Bell Mobility
Hantro Products Oy
Parthus Technologies Plc
Serome Technology

General Members
AT&T Wireless
Command Audio Corporation
EMC Corporation
Hutchison 3G UK Ltd.
Mobixell Networks, Inc.
Net Personix
Partner Communications Company Ltd
Sanyo North America
Scanz Communications
SK Telecom
Tecnomen Oy
Texas Instruments, Inc.
Unisys Corporation
Wiral Oy

Content Members
Walt Disney InternetGroup
Warner Bros

Published Thursday, February 8th, 2001

Written by Joseph Schwartz

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