Six of the biggest names in cellular telephony have announced a new foundation to push Linux standardisation and adoption on mobile phones.

Motorola, NEC, Panasonic Mobile Communications and Samsung Electronics and carriers NTT DoCoMo and Vodafone Group Services in June last year said they planned to work together on a Linux-based open software platform for mobile phones.

The non-profit LiMo Foundation is open to any individual or enterprise for an annual fee of between US$40,000 and $800,000 depending on membership class. Membership provides access to and the ability to contribute to source code developed by the group.

A 13-member board of directors will meet four times a year to oversee running of the foundation. It will be led by Greg Besio of Motorola as foundation chairman and Kiyohito Nagata of NTT DoCoMo as vice chairman.

Linux is finding its way into an increasing number of cell phones as operators and manufacturers seek to cut development costs, expand compatibility between different models of phone and widen functions available on cell phones.

Two of the foundation members, NEC and Panasonic, have been working together on Linux-based phones for NTT DoCoMo since 2001 and last year they established a joint venture to work on basic design and development of 3G cell phones. Through Esteemo they hope to cut development costs. Motorola and Samsung are also working separately on Linux-based cell phones.