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Real, Ericsson to team on mobile media

The two companies plan to announce a deal under which Ericsson will integrate RealNetworks' audio and video playback technology into the gear it sells to cell phone service providers.

RealNetworks is expected to announce Wednesday a deal with wireless technology provider Ericsson to power the delivery of digital media onto mobile devices.

Under the nonexclusive agreement, Ericsson will integrate RealNetworks' technology for audio and video playback into the equipment it sells to wireless phone companies. Specifically, Ericsson will combine RealNetworks' Helix Universal Server with its new content delivery system, called the Ericsson Content Delivery Solution (ECDS).

The combined technologies will support the playback of video and audio files encoded in RealNetworks' RealAudio and RealVideo, and in industry standards MPEG-4 and 3GPP (third-generation partnership project).

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The deal helps drive Seattle-based RealNetworks' growth into the mobile phone market. As competition on the PC has stiffened and server system sales have waned, the streaming software pioneer has aimed to push its technology beyond the desktop.

To meet this end, the company introduced Helix last year. Helix is a digital media platform that supports multiple operating systems and file formats, including the industry standards that consumer-electronics manufacturers tend to adopt.

Mobile phone providers are moving toward providing more data services to their customers, and companies including Ericsson and Nokia are attempting to accommodate them by selling infrastructure technology that includes multimedia capabilities.

RealNetworks already has a partnership with No. 1 cell phone maker Nokia, which uses RealNetwork's RealOne jukebox in its handsets and integrates RealNetworks' Helix platform into technology it sells to other wireless carriers.

In a separate announcement Wednesday, Hong Kong mobile operator CSL said it signed an agreement to use Nokia's technology for media delivery that is powered by RealNetworks.

"It's a great start for us in the mobile market, having these strong partners," said Ian Freed, RealNetworks' vice president of mobile products and services.