RealTime IT News

Nokia Looking For 3G Unity

In Cannes, France this week, Nokia is putting on a show for 3GSM World Congress attendees.

In addition to the usual deluge of product announcements Wednesday that are standard at any industry convention, the wireless phone maker issued a call to other wireless equipment vendors to open up standards for interoperability in a wide variety of areas, preferably using Nokia's technology.

Dr. J.T. Bergqvist, Nokia senior vice president, said compatibility is the key to wireless phone equipment success in the future, and wants to create "technology modules unit" that will use Nokia technology to create an open vendor platform for wireless, which will be sold to all equipment makers (including Nokia) on equal terms.

"Nokia's strategy is to open the internal architectures for standard commercial components, thereby increasing efficiency throughout the industry and bringing consumers a wider range of new, exciting and affordable mobile services," he said.

It's uncertain what other wireless equipment manufacturers think of this somewhat utopian vision for wireless products based on Nokia's existing technology. Officials said they have approached other companies to join the technology module initiative, but wouldn't tell whether the vendors were interested or not.

The first module products will be available for universal use in mid-2002.

The module unit launch and call for an open standard is part of Nokia's far-reaching goals to bring equipment makers under one standards umbrella to speed up delivery of new products to the consumer. Working with standards already created and approved by standard's bodies like the 3rd Generation Partneship Project (3GPP) and the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), the vendor hopes companies can work together to launch more products going forward.

One initiative running under Nokia's goal for standards unity is the open IP base station architecture, running on the multiple mobile network standard for radio access networks (RANs).

Launched concurrently with its new product line of wideband code-division multiplex access (WCDMA) base stations, Nokia said a technology standard brings network costs down for its customers.

"It will allow next-generation All-IP base stations to be built using best-of-breed shared platforms and modules, available on an open market, whilst letting network suppliers differentiate on system and network-element levels," Bergqvist said. "Expected to contribute to bringing the network costs per capacity down, this initiative is a pivotal element in enabling large-scale Mobile Internet service usage at affordable prices."

Nokia has made a concerted effort to play nice with industry leaders, culminating in the company's joining forces with Siemens to support a global open standard for broadband wireless networks, a hybrid of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) 802.16 and the European Telecommunications Standards Institute's (ETSI) BRAN standards.

In related news:

  • Nokia had a slew of product launches at the 3GSM convention Wednesday, culminating with its end-to-end all-IP phone call on its radio-access network (RAN). Called "rich" calls, all-IP network calls are a blend of voice, video, and mobile multimedia messaging on one signal, bringing operational costs down.

    "This call proves that mobile networking is rapidly moving towards end-to-end IP networks, and Omnitel Vodafone aims to be one of the first operators to implement these," said Valerio Zingarelli, Omnitel Vodaphone chief technical officer.

    Vodaphone and Verizon Communications jointly own the largest wireless phone company in the U.S., Verizon Wireless, with more than 24 million 2G digital phone users. The company launched its 3G service in January to select U.S. cities.

  • With the launch of two new services, Nokia hopes to show wireless operators their network needs for the future. The Nokia GPRS network survey and WCDMA simulation consultancy both give operators, depending on the wireless standard they use, an assessment of the network's current performance and what improvements can be made.

    According to Matti Makkonen, Nokia Networks senior vice president, the successful wireless operators of the future are the one's that today figure out where they need to go.

    "The communications industry seeks increased growth, and mobile operators want to make the most of their networks and services," he said. "Based on Nokia's demonstrated success with various technologies and networks, we are well placed to help operators protect their network investment, optimize their solutions and thus boost network usage."

  • Nokia rolled out a new product line of WCDMA products, dubbed FlexiFamily, aimed at improving indoor and outdoor radio all-IP traffic and range from base stations to carrier-grade servers. The equipment is nothing new, largely upgrades from the company's first attempt to drive interest in the technology.