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Mobile

Genie lifts the lid on messaging

The British wireless carrier will announce a new type of messaging service that lets cell phone users send and receive messages containing a mix of different media.

British wireless carrier Genie will announce Wednesday a new type of messaging service that lets cell phone users send and receive messages containing a mix of different media, including pictures and sound recordings.

Genie, the mobile Internet division of British carrier MMO2, is using new software from Openwave Systems, the U.S.-based cell phone software maker whose miniature browser is inside more than 80 percent of the world's phones, Openwave said.

The announcement makes Genie among the first to offer a service called multimedia messaging, or MMS, which has caught the interest of many carriers, including those in the United States. Genie's offer is on a trial basis.

These messages exchanged between wireless devices can include pictures, music, images, graphics and ring tones, according to Ronan Mandel, manager of the global developer services program at Openwave. Most cell phones can only send and receive e-mails, instant messages, or short messages known as SMS that are under 160 carriers.

MMS is slowly gaining ground in the industry, as the major players are starting to ensure they make MMS equipment that can work with each other. For instance, Siemens recently agreed to work with rivals Nokia, Sony and Ericsson to ensure all their MMS network equipment is compatible. Nokia is also testing its own MMS equipment now, according to sources.

This week, CMG, a mobile phone software company, won a contract to supply MMS software to Hutchison, which owns the rights to use spectrum for next-generation telephone services in the United Kingdom, Italy, Sweden, Hong Kong and Australia.