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3GSM Asia: Asian ops plan IM rollout

The GSM Association’s personal Instant Messaging (IM) campaign has scored further success in Asia, with mobile operators in Malaysia and Singapore planning the development and launch of interoperable IM services.

Launched at the 3GSM World Congress in Barcelona last February, the initiative aims to make instant messaging on mobile networks as ubiquitous and popular as text messaging.

Fifteen operators: China Mobile, Orange, Telefonica, TeliaSonera, TIM, T-Mobile, Turkcell, Vodafone, and India’s Aircel, Bharti, BSNL, Hutchison Essar, Idea, MTNL and Spice, signed initial Letters of Intent earlier this year, designed to make progress in the rollout of personal IM services that will work across networks.

Yesterday the GSMA announced new additions to this list. In Malaysia, all three GSM operators – Celcom, DiGi Telecommunications and Maxis – have agreed to launch interoperable IM services during 2007. Meanwhile, M1, SingTel Mobile and StarHub in Singapore will start to plan the development of interoperable IM services. India’s GSM operators, which announced that they would adopt personal IM in February, are planning to launch commercial services in early 2007.

“Personal IM, combines the very best of the mobile and Internet worlds, and will soon be enriched with pictures and multimedia,” said Rob Conway, CEO of the GSM Association. “It offers the immediacy of IM, underpinned by the same core GSM principles that have made SMS so popular; ease of use, security, reliability, interoperability and cost transparency. Asian mobile operators are laying the foundation of the long-term success of IM.”

“We in Bharti Airtel are greatly excited about the potential for mobile IM in India,” added Manoj Kohli, president of Bharti Airtel. “We are actively participating in the COAI Special Committee on IM, which comprises all Indian GSM operators, and is working for an interconnect hub solution to ensure seamless IM interoperability between all mobile networks.”

In addition to the progress in Asia, mobile IM software providers, such as Colibria, Ericsson, fastmobile, Followap and Oz Communications, are supporting the GSMA initiative with a ‘white label’ service offering that will ensure operators can launch services that enable customers to send messages across networks.


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