Nokia Corp. and Sonera Corp. as expected further deflated the hype about 3G (third generation) mobile telephony on Thursday, but the companies remain convinced that especially business users will want to subscribe to 3G services and buy new handsets.
The forthcoming high-speed mobile telephony networks won't offer any new futuristic services the industry promoted in the late 1990s. Instead, 3G or UMTS (Universal Mobile Telecommunications System) networks will improve services already available to users today because of the added bandwidth that will be available, Nokia and Sonera said.
"Multimedia messaging is a 3G service," said Anssi Vanjoki, executive vice president of Nokia Mobile Phones at a joint news conference with Sonera in Finland. Sonera, often recognized as one of the most innovative phone companies in the world, is the incumbent carrier in Finland.
MMS (multimedia messaging service) has been available for some time and operators have been promoting it on their GPRS (General Packet Radio Service), or 2.5G networks. GPRS adds the capability to send and receive packet-switched data to second-generation GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications) networks.
Ben Wood, a senior analyst with Dataquest Inc., a unit of Gartner Inc., said today's announcements went as expected.
"There are no surprises. They launched a phone that looks like a phone and the expected redefinition of 3G has come to fruition. 3G is not a new network that stands on its own, it is intrinsically linked to 2G and 2.5G," he said.
"It was very easy to get got in the hype and euphoria in the late 90s. The reality is when people talk about holy grails and killer applications, they just don't exist. There is only one for mobile phones and that is just voice," said Wood.
Nokia officially announced its 6650 phone for 3G networks and Sonera unveiled what it calls its first 3G services. In line with the overall message, these services will be offered on Sonera's 2G and 2.5G networks first. Users will be able to benefit from the added 3G network speed in parts of Finland sometime next year, if they buy a 3G handset.
"When you move to 3G the services will be richer," said Harri Koponen, Sonera's president and chief executive officer at the news conference. Nokia's Vanjoki added that the benefits of 3G are "additional speed, quality of service and multitasking."
The new Nokia 6650 is a pocket-sized phone weighing 141 grams with a color display and built-in camera. It supports GSM, GPRS and 3G networks. Nokia expects it to cost anywhere between