Baltimore secures wireless deal in Japan

Wireless security announcements from Irish Baltimore promise boost for mobile commerce

Irish Baltimore Technologies inked a deal with Japanese mobile phone colossus DoCoMo Tuesday that will see it providing security for its mobile commerce service i-mode in Japan.

Security firm Baltimore also announced Tuesday the Telepathy Registration System, a software solution allowing organisations to issue digital signatures over a mobile network, implementing a wireless Public Key Infrastructure (PKI).

The Irish firm will supply the encryption for DoCoMo's mobile latest device, the 503i, the first to have security capabilities. It will provide the keys used by the phone to communicate securely with i-mode sites. This puts Baltimore in pole position to also supply Japanese i-mode sites with infrastructure to enable mobile commerce.

"With over 18 million i-mode users and 20,000 i-mode Web site content providers, Japan represents a huge growth market for mobile commerce services," said Paddy Holahan, executive vice president of marketing at Baltimore Technologies.

How much the deal is worth will depend on the success of the phone and i-mode itself. The Baltimore Telepathy Registration System provides wireless encryption security for organisations with mobile users and promises to secure communications in Europe. Compatible with WAP it is aimed more at the European market and is designed to fit on top of a company's existing PKI security, extending this to a Wireless PKI (WPKI).

Public Key Infrastructure or PKI is based on digital signatures. Distributed by a central certificate authority, these keys guarantee the authenticity of users and create a secure environment for communications. Although PKI is still a fledgling technology it is widely viewed as important to the development of future e-commerce.

In contrast to the struggling European mobile Internet standard WAP (Wireless Application Protocol), i-mode has seen much success in Japan and combining this with security will provide an incentive to keep this momentum going for i-mode companies with possible expansion overseas.

In Europe, the next generation of WAP is expected to offer more content over GPRS (General Packet Radio Service) networks, which is starting to emerge, although DoCoMo is strengthening its position in Europe and threatening competition.

The announcements were timed to coincide with the launch of the GSM World Forum in Cannes, where GPRS, 3G and Bluetooth are hot topics.

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