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Nokia not afraid of VoIP. Really

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3GSM Outgoing Nokia chief Jorma Ollila compared the challenge posed by IP telephony to the shift from analog to digital today. It was just this transition that saw Nokia usurp Motorola's dominant position in 1G analog mobile handsets - and it's been top dog ever since.

Nokia announced a new UMA handset that conforms to the industry specification for handover between unlicensed WLAN and Bluetooth spectrum, and the 2G and 3G cellular networks.

While Nokia regards the N90 as its first UMA-capable device, while the new 6136 majors on VoIP. The phone features WLAN and W-CDMA flavor 3G, and will be available Q2 2006 for €275.

Nokia executives welcomed the internet VoIP companies such as Skype, Google, Yahoo! and Vonage while giving them a hearty kick in the nuts.

[The 6136] is much more convenient than carrying your laptop next to your ear, said Kai Oistamo, Nokias executive VP and general manager of its mobile handset division.

Oistamo said the benefits of UMA were having one device and one phone number - as well as the oft-touted cost savings.

Earlier Ollila had identified five areas where operators could add value. While VoIP is expected to cut into voice revenues, there were plenty more opportunities in services, such as the lucrative conferencing business, where they could make money.

Fixed and cable operators could partner with cellular rivals to launch MVNOs, and mobile operators could use WLAN to encroach into fixed operators home turf.

So the internet creates value? That's tended to be very much the exception rather than the rule. Olilla confirmed that Nokia had WiMAX products in the works. He expected WiMAX to be an additional option for network providers from 2008, with a few new sepcial purposee network providers offering WiMAX data, and existing giant telcos using the technology to extend their offerings.

Plus ca change, then. ®

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