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Sun, BellSouth in wireless deal

The Java creator and BellSouth Wireless Data say they are jointly working to build wireless network infrastructure intended to improve the appeal of gadgets that use Java software technology.

Sun Microsystems and BellSouth Wireless Data said today they are jointly working to build wireless network infrastructure intended to improve the appeal of gadgets that use Sun's Java software technology.

In addition, the wireless services offered by BellSouth will be powered by Sun servers running Sun software, the companies said. The combination of Java-enabled gadgets and Sun back-end equipment will allow more sophisticated Internet capabilities for the gadgets, the companies said.

Telecommunications companies, locked in fierce competition, have been bolstering their revenues by offering more complex services such as caller ID. Many believe the union of the Internet and wireless devices such as cell phones will mean new services and consequently new opportunities for making money.

In January, GTE and Sun announced a plan that uses Sun software and GTE high-speed Internet access to connect family members and home technology.

Sun's Java software lets a program work on several devices regardless of the hardware differences among the those devices. For example, it theoretically allows a Web browser to run on an in-dash car computer, personal digital assistant or pager. Sun is working to spread its Java software as widely as possible, and currently is focusing in particular on using it in gadgets such as cell phones.

A variety of companies are working to build Java capabilities on cell phones, and 3Com's Palm Computing plans to put Java on its popular Palm Pilots. And companies such as Espial Group are building Java-based software such as Web browsers or email clients that don't require too much memory.

Though adding Java capabilities to a gadget theoretically makes it easier to run programs, it also requires more computing power and therefore increases the expense of the device.

BellSouth Wireless Data, with headquarters in Woodbridge, N.J., is a subsidiary of telecommunications company BellSouth. Sun Microsystems is based in Palo Alto.