The GSM Association launched its Mobile Service initiative on Wednesday, giving guidance to handset makers and software developers on the needs of consumers, in an attempt to create a higher standard of mobile services.

A clear set of service standards is good news for GSM and GRPS handset users who can expect clearer graphics and better quality music and video games, according to the GSM Association.

"Universal standards are essential to ensure users receive the best services available across the world," said a spokesperson at the Consumers Association. "Regardless of the product, users need a point of quality to compare the standard of their product with others, this will give them exactly that."

"The M-Services initiative was undertaken by the GSM Association to enable GPRS users to experience a new level of consistently available service through the mobile internet," said GSM Association chief executive Rob Conway.

There are several universal GSM standards currently in operation such as that for SMS messaging, which stipulates that messages must be easy to compose, send and receive.

The new M-services guidelines will make ring tone, wallpaper and screensaver downloads mandatory functions for GPRS phones. Games and Java applications will be classed as recommended services, though video functions remain optional.

All the big manufacturers, including Ericsson, Motorola, Alcatel, Samsung and Siemens, are supporting the venture.

"M-services will demonstrate the power of GPRS by delivering an enriched mobile experience to consumers, and it should go a long way towards accelerating the adoption of wireless data," said Jan Wareby, CEO of Ericsson's consumer division.

"In effect, M-services will take us into the third dimension [voice, data and services] before 3G arrives," Mike Short, head of spin (VP of the industry relations division) at BT Wireless.