by J. Edwards

Developing a Global Mobile Phone

May 01, 20022 mins

A mobile phone that could be used anywhere in the world?regardless of the protocol requirements of local carriers?would be just the ticket for international travelers. That’s what Bell Labs is aiming for with its new Common Operations (COPS) software architecture.

COPs is designed to provide global roaming access across all existing major network types as well as emerging third-generation technologies. The software can even work with 802.11 wireless data networks. “The architecture could be extended to include all mobile network types,” says Jack Kozik, director of enhanced services architecture for the mobility solutions group at Murray Hill, N.J.-based Lucent Technologies, Bell Labs’ parent company.

COPS is a “protocol gateway” that translates data based on various types of wireless standards into a single, common format. The technology provides an interface that draws information from home location registers (HLRs), the subscriber databases maintained by each carrier. When installed on a carrier’s servers, COPS automatically generates subscriber authentication, authorization and location data from normally incompatible networks. It also works in reverse, sending relevant subscriber information back to the home carrier.

COPS acts like a multilingual translator. “The software takes data that might be ordinarily incomprehensible to a network and places it into a usable form,” says Kozik. “It will allow users to take their phone and their services along with them wherever they may roam.” On the subscriber end, all that’s required is a dual-mode CDMA/GSM phone.

A pending crop of 3G wireless services, including instant messaging, streaming media and global positioning, promises to make the task of handling roaming subscribers much more complicated and expensive. COPS aspires to cut carriers’ costs by streamlining the interchange of subscriber data. “COPS will require fewer boxes and fewer interconnections,” says Kozik. The technology also aims to help carriers support multiple network types, or to migrate from one network protocol to another, without adding or converting HLRs.

Lucent expects to begin offering products integrating COPS architecture to its equipment customers late this year.