Using dual-mode Wi-Fi and cellular mobile phones may get easier with new software that Nokia Corp. is offering to service providers and application developers.
Typically, each time users of dual-mode phones try to access Internet services, they must choose which network they want to connect to, sometimes from a list of multiple cellular and Wi-Fi networks. But if a user subscribes to a service from a provider using Nokia's Service Suite, that choice can happen automatically, based on lowest cost and highest speed network or other parameters set by users or the service provider.
Telio Telecom AS, a Norwegian VOIP (voice over Internet Protocol) provider, is already using the Nokia Service Suite. Telio offers voice over Wi-Fi services to users of dual-mode phones.
In addition to automatically choosing the proper network, the software also helps Telio provision the service, said Jouni Malinen, director of Nokia's emerging business unit. Once a customer signs up for Telio's service, the customer receives a message on the phone that automatically changes the phone's settings to enable the service. Without the Nokia Service Suite, customers would have to manage multiple potentially complicated configuration changes to enable the service, Malinen said.
In addition, the Nokia Service Suite allows application providers such as Telio to push out updates to phones so that customers don't have to execute cumbersome setting or configuration changes if updates are required.
While some of the mechanisms offered by the software are available already through various existing device management standards, Nokia has bundled the functions together in the Nokia Service Suite. "Our aim is to put everything needed in one solid product in order to guarantee a good user experience," Malinen said.
The software isn't limited to supporting voice applications. It can also help optimize the download or upload of media such as music, photographs or videos. For example, the software may detect that a user is in range of a Wi-Fi hotspot that the user subscribes to and then, because the Wi-Fi network is high-speed and available, automatically initiate the scheduled upload of photographs to a blog site.
Nokia Service Suite consists of server software that an application provider deploys as well as device software that is already built into many Nokia phones including the Eseries, Nseries and Nokia Series 80 phones.
In the future, Nokia plans to support phones from other manufacturers as well, Malinen said. "We can really guarantee the best experience on our own devices but as we're basing this on standards and open interfaces, nothing prohibits us from bringing other devices on board," he said.
With the introduction of more phones that include Wi-Fi capabilities, application and service providers are likely to offer new ways to use the high speed and potentially lower cost networks. But they'll need to overcome some hurdles, such as complicated phone configurations, which may currently slow down use.
The Nokia Service Suite software is a step toward making dual-mode phones easier to use, Malinen said.