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Wireless firms collaborate to boost security

Ericsson, Motorola and Nokia announce a joint initiative that aims at improving security for transactions over wireless networks.

Ericsson, Motorola and Nokia today announced a joint initiative aimed at improving security for transactions over wireless networks.

In a joint statement issued at a press conference in London, the three companies asserted that a common industry framework for secure mobile transactions needs to be implemented to boost e-commerce over wireless networks. The firms will join with representatives from the telecommunications, financial and information technology industries to create the standard.

"Trust is the key element for mobile interaction and transaction," Rick Darnaby, senior vice president at Motorola, said in a statement from the press conference. "We envision mobile devices will soon play a key role in virtually every aspect of our lives.

By 2004, there will be a billion cell phone users, according to the companies. The three already work together as part of the Symbian alliance, a consortium of cell phone makers that market devices using the Epoc operating system.

The group will use existing technologies, like WAP (wireless application protocol) which translates Internet content for the small screens of Internet-enabled cell phones and PDAs (personal digital assistants), and security standards like the Wireless Transport Layer Security and wireless Identification Module.

This type of security standard may improve cell phone users' comfort level in giving out personal information and purchasing using Internet-enabled cell phones, analysts say. According to International Data Corp., 61.5 million people will be accessing the Internet wirelessly by 2003.

"A mobile device will be the platform to bridge the virtual and physical worlds of e-business," said Matti Alahuhta, president of Nokia, in a statement from the press conference. "Integrating security and transaction applications on a common core standard and platform will create a global mass market for mobile e-business."

The companies laid Wireless takes center stageout some possible scenarios for this type of application. For example: A Bluetooth-enabled smart phone could be pointed at a cash register or parking meter, using the wireless network to process the payment. These devices could instantly issue tickets, as well, the companies predicted.

The companies did not elaborate on the technical details, saying further information will be forthcoming in May.

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