Bell Labs researchers say they've jumped a significant hurdle in the continuing development of mobile phone technology: allowing a caller to use the same phone anywhere in the world. So-called global roaming is virtually impossible today because wireless carriers use different types of phone networks that can't communicate with one another and require their own specially made phones. Business people traveling overseas often carry different mobile phones because carriers on each continent use different networks.
Satellite phones offer service closest to global access, but they're more expensive than cell phones--sometimes three times as much--and the phones themselves only work on their own network of satellites.
On Tuesday, Bell Labs announced a software language called "Common Operations," or COPS, which wireless service providers would put on their networks and which would allow a wireless user's identifications and passwords to be read by the different network types. The product will eventually be sold through communications-gear maker Lucent Technologies to telecommunications carriers, but it won't be on the market for years, according to a Lucent spokesman.
There are still several hurdles to overcome, said Jack Kozik, director of enhanced services architecture at Lucent's mobility solutions group.
The handsets that would work with COPS must be created, for example. Wireless chipmaker Qualcomm said it is developing a chip so handsets could work on the CDMA (code division multiple access) standard, which powers about 15 percent of the world's telephone networks, and the standard known as GSM (global system for mobile communications), which powers about 75 percent of the world's mobile phone networks.
News source: ZDnet