HP puts handset software on the air

Hewlett-Packard Co. (HP) on Monday was set to introduce an over-the-air software distribution system for mobile operators, a move that could help solve enterprises' looming challenge of managing wireless mobile devices like they do PCs.

The new distribution tool, called Mobile Device Management (MDM) and available immediately to carriers, goes beyond existing systems used for over-the-air updates of basic handset functions, according to Joy King, director of the Palo Alto, California company's network and service-provider solutions business. MDM lets carriers distribute updated versions of enterprise software and even new applications to high-powered mobile devices. HP expects operators first to embrace the system for consumer phone upgrades, but it can also solve a growing need of enterprise customers, King said.

As enterprises begin to deploy productivity applications in the field on advanced data-capable phones, they may want to control the new devices as tightly as PCs but face the challenge of having them constantly in employees' hands on the road. With MDM, service providers can help their enterprise customers by sending new software, such as an operating system upgrade or a homegrown sales force automation application, quickly to many devices over the cellular network, King said. The system can also make it easier for consumers to download software to personalize their handsets or add capabilities such as multimedia messaging, she added. Those upgrades, as well as fixes for phone software bugs, could be handled over the air rather than requiring consumers to visit the carrier's store.

The MDM system, which incorporates applications from partner companies Gemplus SA, InnoPath Software Inc. and mFormation Technologies Inc., is part of HP's mobile Service Delivery Platform (SDP) for mobile operators. That platform brings together HP software, hardware and partner offerings with consulting and integration services to help operators get services out to their subscribers.

Also on Monday, the company is expected to announce deployments of its technologies at several mobile operators, including SK Telecom Co. Ltd. in South Korea, Vodafone Libertel NV of The Netherlands and Sweden's TeliaSonera AB.

SK Telecom, the biggest mobile operator in one of the world's most advanced mobile wireless markets, is using the HP Mobile E-Services Server to deliver services to subscribers, HP will announce. The E-Services Server, part of HP's mobile SDP, plays a role in SK Telecom's Next Generation Convergence Platform (NGCP), a new platform designed to make a wide variety of services available to the carrier's approximately 18.8 million subscribers. HP began working with SK Telecom on the NGCP about a year ago, King said.

Among other things, SK Telecom is using HP technology to bring outside developers into the process of creating new services for users, King said. The HP mobile SDP gives developers that don't have a telecommunications background, such as game creators, a familiar interface into the carrier's systems through commercial Web services technologies, according to HP. In addition, it serves as a protective barrier to keep outside developers from inadvertently compromising the network, King said.

At Vodafone Libertel, HP at the end of last year deployed a system to improve the quality of MMS (Multimedia Messaging Service) messages. Those messages can include images, audio and video, but transferring those elements from one type of phone to another can lead to glitches when the message is received. The system HP created for Vodafone, based on technology called MobiXtar from Israeli software vendor MobiXell Inc., performs transcoding in the network to ready each message for the phone of the user who's going to receive it, King said.

TeliaSonera is using HP's OpenView OSS (operations support system) software portfolio to manage its network. One component, HP's OpenView TeMIP software, manages about 100,000 alarms per day on the 3G network. The alarms signal problems such as hardware failures that require rerouting of calls, according to King. Also, OpenView's Service Quality Manager is used by TeliaSonera to maintain service level agreements for customers, according to HP. The software has been in commercial use at TeliaSonera since the end of last year, King said.

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