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Verizon BREWs Up With Summus

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Summus Inc. went live this week on Verizon Wireless's newly nationwide BREW wireless application service. The firm's initial BREW application, called Exego, looks like a rival to photo-messaging services such as MMS. However, the firm insists that its technology is more sophisticated and can be happily deployed on existing networks, unlike multimedia messaging.

Publicly-held Summus, which is based in Raleigh, N.C., has been working on compression technology for 11 years. Over the last couple of years the company has started to focus on the mobile market with its BlueFuel platform.

Summus says its technology will enable "anything with a digital format" -- that's Word documents, spreadsheets, audio and video files -- to be routed between wired and wireless devices. The company already has software for mobile phones and handheld computers, with PC code coming in the summer.

The mobile client software decodes the compression algorithms used to make the files small enough to be shunted over narrowband wireless networks. The types of microprocessors used in cellphones have about five MIPS of computing power, according to Dr. Bjorn Jawerth, CEO and chairman of the board at Summus. About 80 percent of that is reserved for voice processing. Leaving only one MIPS to cater for data.

Despite this, however, Summus says that it can transmit digital photos over today's GSM and CDMA networks. Jawerth says that, because of the compression technology, they have been able to transmit images effectively over networks at about 4 kbit/s.

"It takes less than a second to get the image up on 2G networks," he says.

This is good news for Verizon, which can run data over BREW without having to have 2.5G CDMA 1xRTT networks in place. However, the catch is that Verizon only has two BREW-enabled phones on the market at the moment, hardly encouraging massive proliferation of the Summus applications.

However, Jawerth says that his firm is looking for other carrier relationships.

On the technology side, the company says that -- because of its efficient compression of data -- its technology could become a conduit rather than a rival for services such as MMS.

"Summus's solution and technology are able to offer more efficient media engines, today, in terms of both file size, computational complexity, and advanced multimedia interactive features," says Jawerth. "Since these solutions have been developed under the general limitations and constraints of the mobile and wireless device, they are also efficient media processing candidates for use by MMS." — Dan Jones, Senior Editor, Unstrung

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