Two industry heavyweights have completed interoperability tests of a technology designed to converge voice, data and video services over IP infrastructures.

Finland's Nokia and Japan's NEC established VoIP sessions and transferred instant messages between terminals over a network using new IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS) technology, the companies said.

IMS is a standard defined by the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP), which was established in December 1998 to bring together a number of telecommunications standards bodies.

"IMS is a technology that enables devices, both mobile and fixed, to interconnect via IP," said Kalle Luukkainen, marketing director of core networks at Nokia. "It supports a number of multimedia services, such as video sharing, content sharing and sharing of presence information, either on a one-to-one or one-to-group basis."

The Nokia-NEC test demonstrated interoperability of devices not only between vendors but also across networks, according to Luukkainen. "This is a very open technology that enables mobile terminals or other computing devices from one vendor to connect with those of another," he said. "For instance, users can transfer photos from their mobile phones to PCs or other devices over IMS-enabled networks."

Another service that will work over IMS is push-to-talk, a walkie-talkie service targeted by numerous mobile operators around the world, according to Luukkainen.

The technology, Luukkainen said, is "access agnostic," meaning that it can support all wireless and wireline access technologies capable of packet-based IP connections, such as GPRS (General Packet Radio Service), WCDMA (Wideband Code Division Multiple Access), WLAN (wireless LAN) and ADSL (asymmetric digital subscriber line).

In a move to kick-start the market for IMS services, Nokia offers software development tools for third-party application developers, according to Luukkainen. "Essentially, any application developer can download our tools and start creating services that utilize IP connections," he said. "We expect this open approach to spur the creation of many new multimedia services for consumers and businesses alike."