Apple has joined an alliance formed to create a single standard for media streaming over the Internet.

The Internet Streaming Media Alliance (ISMA) was announced yesterday.

Other alliance members include Cisco Systems, Kasenna, Philips Electronics and Sun Microsystems. The companies say they are joining forces to promote open standards for developing end-to-end media-streaming solutions over IP (Internet protocol). The founders believe their collaboration will speed up the adoption of open standards and interoperability, while encouraging the development of competitive streaming-media software.

Standard The promise of streaming media can be realized only if there is a single standard for consumers, service providers, network operators, equipment suppliers and content providers, William J Raduchel, chief technology officer of AOL, said. AOL, expected to merge soon with Time Warner, is interested in standards for media streaming to ease the distribution of content.

Microsoft and Real Networks were notable for their absence from the newly-announced alliance.

The cost of deploying streaming-media services to support current formats has prohibited many service providers and other adopters from taking advantage of existing market opportunities, according to ISMA. The alliance plans to adopt elements of standards that already exist for the deployment of streaming media over IP, and contribute to those still in development.

formal meeting The first specification from the ISMA will define an implementation agreement for streaming MPEG-4 video and audio format over IP networks, and will be circulated for review and input at the first formal meeting of ISMA in February 2001.

Upon completion of the specifications, the ISMA will promote them among developers and those seeking to deploy rich-media streaming solutions. The ISMA Web site, launched Tuesday, will publish completed specifications and distribute information about alliance activities.

Several additional companies are named in the release as supporters of ISMA, including Analog Devices, Axis Communications and Silicon Graphics.