Two telecom operator-backed mobile software groups signaled closer co-operation on Tuesday as carriers face increasing competition from the new rivals Google and Apple.

The two consortiums, wireless Linux group LiMo and application alliance WAC, offer operators alternatives to the software and services of Apple, Google or Nokia as they can brand and customize their software.

These initiatives are providing independent and neutral means for operators to deliver their own applications and services to counter the rising tide of competition from web players and handset manufacturers, analyst Geoff Blaber from CCS Insight said.

Operator-backed mobile platform group LiMo said it has approached key players behind the new operator application store alliance WAC -- offering help to kickstart operations and to co-operate closely in the future.

The first response was very warm, LiMo's head Morgan Gillis told Reuters in an interview.

The industry is trying to carve out an independent approach. It is behaving in a co-operative, co-ordinated way trying to deal with the new competition, Gillis said.

Last month, 24 major telecom operators formed the WAC alliance to build an open platform that will deliver applications to all mobile phone users.

Analysts were skeptical whether so many operators could work together efficiently, but LiMo addition could help, CCS' Blaber said.

LiMo knows the challenges inherent in building standards by committee. Getting more than 20 operators with competing interests to agree on a standard will not be a straightforward task, Blaber said.

AT&T, Bharti Airtel, China Mobile, MTN Group, NTT DoCoMo, Orange, Orascom Telecom, Telefonica and Vodafone are among the founding members of the WAC alliance.

The alliance is supported also by three of the world's largest phone makers -- LG Electronics, Samsung and Sony Ericsson.

LiMo is an alternative to leading operating systems from Nokia, Apple, Google or Microsoft. Mobile operators are betting on LiMo, where they have more control over software development.

The Linux operating system has so far had limited success on cellphones, but its presence is increasing with Google using Linux for its Android platform on, and LiMo manufacturers rolling out new models.

Linux is the most popular type of free, or so-called open source, computer operating system which is available to the public to be used, revised and shared.