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Linux phone standards group adds global heavyweight

Oct 1, 2007 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive — views

An industry group working to increase interoperability among Linux implementations for mobile phones has gained another high-profile member. BT (British Telecom) is the third global operator to join the Linux Phone Standards (LiPS) Forum, and the organization's 21st member.

BT is world's 164th largest company, and the 10th-largest telecommunications company, according to Fortune magazine's Global 500 listings. BT operates in 170 countries, with a focus on networked IT services, telecom services, broadband, and “converged fixed/mobile” products and services, it says. It reported 2007 revenues of $38 billion.

Compared to LiPS's other telecom members, BT is slightly smaller. France Telecom ranked 82nd on Fortune's global list for 2007, with revenues of about $66 billion, while Telecom Italia ranked 156, with revenues of $40 billion. France Telecom and Telecom Italia are fifth and ninth, respectively, on Fortune's list of global telecom providers.

LiPS states its goal as being to “standardize the Linux-based services and APIs (application programming interfaces) that most directly influence the development, deployment, and interoperability of applications and user-level services.” It released its first spec earlier this summer, concurrently hiring Bill Weinberg, a long-time embedded Linux promoter, as general manager.

LiPS Release 1.0 architecture
(Click to enlarge)

In an exclusive interview with LinuxDevices, Weinberg acknowledged BT's leadership in the emerging area of fixed-mobile convergence. He said, “They have a pilot program in the U.K., where they are deploying multi-mode [i.e., WiFi-enabled] phones based on a number of OSes. It works in conjunction with a broadband connection from the same operator, [so you can] roam between voice-over-WiFi and the 2G cellular network. One of the phones is a Motorola Linux phone with WiFi, I believe.”

Weinberg added, “BT is eager to help, and participated in the architecture working group meeting in Madrid this month.”

Besides operators, LiPS is comprised of phone vendors and design houses, semiconductor companies, Linux stack providers, and mobile phone application vendors. It was founded two years ago by eleven companies, and has since nearly doubled its membership.

LiPS members currently include

  • Mobile operators:
    • British Telecom (BT)
    • Orange / France Telecom
    • Telecom Italia Mobile
  • Silicon Suppliers:
    • ARM Ltd
    • Freescale Semiconductor
    • NXP
    • Spreadtrum
    • Texas Instruments
  • Device OEMs and design houses:
    • Cellon
    • Huawei
    • Longcheer
    • Purple Labs
    • ZTE
  • Software providers:
    • A la Mobile
    • ACCESS
    • Celunite
    • Esmertec
    • Kernel Concepts
    • MIZI Research
    • MontaVista
    • Movial
    • Open-Plug
    • TrollTech
    • VirtualLogix

In a statement, Haila Wang, LiPS Forum president, said “Our standardization efforts will benefit from BT's global carrier experience across dozens of markets and from BT's expertise as an operator serving hundreds of millions of users.”

BT Group CTO Matt Bross added, “To deliver innovation, we must look beyond the boundaries of the organization to fuse internal and external innovation.”

LiPs earlier this month announced an alliance with OMA, a carrier industry group working to promote data services on mobile phones.

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