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VoIP is changing the way we communicate

Nokia sees VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) and IP convergence as an industry trend that is likely to impact communications very strongly over the next few years. In addition to voice calls, VoIP technologies, combined with high-speed wireless networks, open up opportunities for a rich variety of communication and multimedia services for mobile users.
Nokia Corporation

VoIP technologies enable voice calls to be routed over the Internet or any other IP-based network, including many modern high-speed wireless networks, such as WLAN. This shift from circuit-switched to IP packet-based networks not only offers attractive cost savings, but new, rich service opportunities as well.

VoIP-based services are already widely used in the PC world, where they can combine voice with data features, such as instant messaging and file transfer. Mobile VoIP solutions take developments one step further by freeing users from their computers and adding a new mobile dimension.

Mobile VoIP services can be implemented over WLANs, and to an increasing extent over 3G mobile networks as well. Thanks to comprehensive roaming and call handovers across mobile and WLAN networks, people can gain access to the services they have come to expect from their existing mobile subscription through a consistent user interface, regardless of the network being used.

The evolution has begun

Although circuit- and packet-switched calls will continue to coexist for an extended period, every level of the value chain is now evolving.

Fixed line operators, for example, are very interested in taking advantage of the reduced infrastructure and maintenance costs VoIP-based services can offer. Mobile operators, for their part, are excited about the opportunities for accelerating fixed-mobile substitution by offering services that were previously only available over fixed lines.

The imaginations of corporate and private end-users are being fired by the combination of advanced services that IP systems offer, their ease of use, and the customised experience made possible by enhanced mobile devices.

Built-in VoIP capability

Nokia is aiming to provide market-leading VoIP solutions by leveraging its ability to offer end-to-end solutions and create a range of products for operators, enterprises, and consumers.

The latest version of the Symbian OS-based S60 software platform incorporated in devices such as the Nokia E61 includes extensive VoIP capabilities.

The world-leading, Symbian OS-based S60 software underpinning Nokia's user-friendly mobile devices and their highly developed integration of multiradio technology and powerful smartphone software has been extended recently with S60's 3rd Edition. Implemented in the Nokia N80 and Nokia E61, for example, this latest version already incorporates extensive VoIP capabilities. Being an open platform, it also offers excellent opportunities for third-party innovation as well.

Keeping in touch through VoIP

Anna, a recent college graduate working as a consultant, is a good example of what mobile VoIP services have to offer.

Her operator has given her the opportunity of using a WLAN-enabled multiradio device and a VoIP service subscription to stay in touch with her friends and family at home and on the road. Replacing her PC-based Internet VoIP service, she is now able to enjoy the benefits of Internet calls via her mobile phone by connecting to her home WLAN network or public hotspots. Seamless handovers from WLAN to cellular networks mean that she is able to use the same mobile device wherever she is.

She also now has access to a number of rich services that let her communicate with her friends via video and text, as well as voice. When she was on vacation in Paris recently, for example, she was able to show a friend the photos she had taken using her mobile phone while she was talking to her over the Internet, and later send a 'wish you were here' video message to her parents.

Since all her communications are now channelled through a single device, Anna's friends and family can always reach her, either by voice, text, instant message, video call, or any other method. Anna can also use presence features (such as 'busy' or 'travelling') to indicate her availability to her contacts, as well as manage incoming communications depending on what she is doing. Some of these activities utilise cellular networks, while others are more suited to WLAN access.

Whereas some of the PC-based services Anna previously used were difficult to set up, and she had separate providers for her telecom services, she now gets all the functionality she needs in one and the same package from a single operator – through one highly intuitive, easy-to-use interface.

> Hannu Markus
(Published in High Technology Finland )