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Telia Mobile Taps Nokia For MMS

Spreading its holiday cheer, Nokia Monday said it has inked a deal to supply Telia with a host of its services.

The world's largest cell phone maker said it's contract includes outsourcing its multimedia messaging service (MMS) as well as the Nokia Charging Center (NCC) for charging for services to Telia Mobile Finland. Financial details were not disclosed.

The MMS system is already in place. Installation of Nokia's NCC is slated for the beginning of January. Nokia's MMS package includes the Nokia Multimedia Messaging Service Center (MMSC), the Nokia Multimedia Terminal Gateway for support of non-MMS phones, as well as the Nokia WAP Gateway and the Nokia Profiler Server. Nokia said it would also throw in its care services to maintain the competitiveness of Telia's MMS platform as part of the deal.

Nokia said its Charging Center platform can be used for MMS as well as for SMS , GPRS access and other data services such as content downloading. The NCC supports charging of both prepaid and postpaid customers. Charging is based on metrics such as data volume, content and quality of service.

MMS has been gaining in popularity, especially in Europe, because it is a technology that will serve as a catalyst for 3G services and content, yet at the same time, it does not require 3G networks for more applications. Faster than e-mail and Wireless Application Protocol (WAP) , the technology lets users send and receive formatted text messages of any length, photos, audio and video content, m-postcards, entertainment information such as comics and horoscopes, quiz games, dating services and competitions.

"Multimedia messaging is already becoming a way of life for many people in Finland, and our customers are at the forefront of this trend," says Telia Mobile Finland Director Riikka Temonen.

Nokia, which has a 37 percent share of the global mobile phone market, said it now has more than 40 MMS customers to date.

On top of Nokia, MMS is also well supported by most major companies supplying mobile handsets, network equipment and software. These companies - which include phone vendors such as Sony Ericsson and Motorola; IT services companies such as CMG and Logica; vendors of messaging platforms and software such as Comverse and Openwave; vendors of specialized network elements, such as billing systems, file caching systems and imaging servers; and application developers such as Beep Science, ConVisual, Extratainment and Magic4 - are either already selling or rapidly developing MMS-related products.

Who's In It Most mobile operators in Western Europe are currently investigating or trialing MMS services. It will also be the region where most of the early MMS services will take place because the key enablers for the success of MMS services are already in place here, according to London-based research firm Ovum.

In April 2002, more than 20 operators announced firm plans to launch commercial MMS services by the end of the year. Norway's Telenor was the first operator to launch a commercial MMS-based service and Vodafone's German operator D2 has also announced its launch plans. Vodafone D2's services are being offered on a free basis until 31 July, after which each picture message sent will cost about US$0.37.

Adoption of MMS in Asia will vary from country to country. Asia-Pacific markets in which the key enablers for MMS exist are Australia, Hong Kong, New Zealand, Singapore and Taiwan. Operators such as Hutchison in Hong Kong and Australia, SingTel Mobile and M1 in Singapore are said to have plans of launching MMS services. In fact, Hutchison Telecom will be launching its MMS this month, the second mobile operator in Hong Kong to do so. Singapore's M1, on the other hand, has started its MMS trials in May and plans to launch the service by October or earlier and a basic message sent could cost about US$0.30 to US$1.

China too shows great potential for MMS launch where Nokia has already inked a deal with China Mobile subsidiary, Zhejiang MCC, which included trials of micro-payment MMS. North America is lagging behind

MMS will be modest in 2002 and 2003 and SMS will continue to be the dominant technology used for person-to-person (p2p) messaging over mobile phones during the next two or three years. Usage of MMS will only begin to demonstrate strong growth in 2004-2005.

Editor's note: asia.internet.com editor Seng Li Peng contributed to this report.