Sonera launched and demonstrated the first 3G services to operate on existing mobile and UMTS networks. Customers can use the services at first in the existing mobile network and later also in the UMTS network.
"Mobile phone services targeted at both consumers and businesses will develop extremely rapidly during the next two years. The services launched now give a taste of what the new world of mobile communications will be like. They also represent the first step of a long development process. The next step will be piloting these services on a full scale in the UMTS network. Sonera's goal is to provide services that deploy both the GSM and the UMTS network," says Executive Vice President Anni Vepsalainen.
The 3G services launched this autumn will operate initially in the present mobile network. Commercial services will be launched in the UMTS network when there are a sufficient number of dual-mode 3G terminals available and when the network technology has evolved sufficiently. The new networks will not replace the current ones, but in the future, different networks will develop side by side, supplementing one another.
Colour service menu and Message Center for easier use
The first generation of mobile communications was about transmitting voice, whereas the second generation was about transmitting voice and text and testing the use of WAP. The third generation brings visual services with sound and image to mobile communications in addition to voice and text. Faster data transmission and terminals with colour displays enable a new kind of user experience and new kinds of services.
Sonera has developed a new, colour, icon-based service menu for its customers' use. Instead of long lists of words, the services activated for the phone are shown on the display as simple icons, in the same way as on a computer.
Sonera's various messaging services are collected under a new Message Center, which makes it possible to attend to messaging and send e-mail, text messages and multimedia messages to one or more recipients. In the same place, you can also save messages and contact information. From the Message Center, you can send pictures from a ready-made selection or pictures you have taken yourself with an MMS-enabled phone as a traditional postcard to the recipient's address. A picture you have taken for instance on a trip and the text you have typed are then printed as a postcard, which is mailed to the desired address. As the Message Center operates in the same way on the Internet, you can use it either with a mobile phone or with a computer.
More content to content services
Utilization of images opens new opportunities for content services. Initially, it is possible to send pictures, text, sound and graphics on the networks. In the future, it will also be possible to send video clips and real-time video. The new services and features can already be used with mobile phones provided with a colour display.
The content services to be launched include a news application to be downloaded to a mobile phone. The service allows you to read the day's news and weather. The news headlines are updated whenever the service is started and at 15-minute intervals. You can also use the service at the same time with other services, in which case the latest news is shown in the navigation bar of the phone as a banner. The news service is subject only to the GPRS data transmission charge.
The latest version of the directory assistance service Finder utilizes the visual nature of phones with a colour display. The service is easier to use than before, as you can both make a call and save a telephone number by simply pressing a text link. If you wish, you can check the location of the subscription holder's address on a colour map on the mobile phone screen. The colour map features operate at first only on Nokia 7650 phones. One domestic search costs EUR 0.59.
The expanded version of Locater, which operates on all mobile phones, combines positioning technology with the potential offered by a colour display. The service renders it possible to search for 18 different types of services (e.g. pharmacy, gas station, pizzeria, automatic cash dispenser) anywhere in Finland. Locater finds the nearest service points and shows their location on a colour map (the map feature currently operates only on Nokia 7650 phones). In addition to contact information, the service can also send a separate advertisement message related to the search. You can save the telephone number of a service point found in the phonebook of your mobile phone by simply pressing a text link. The service costs EUR 0.66 per search.
The same positioning feature is utilized by Map service (MMS), which shows the location of the enquirer on a map. The map view shown on the phone screen is selected by a text message or through WAP.
The graphics and Java and Symbian features of new terminals also enable a new kind of game experience. Sonera's 3G service launch today will demonstrate games such as, RallyX (by RedLynx), which will be simultaneously launched. You can play the game either alone or in teams of up to 20, by taking turns. In RallyX, the player steers a rally car on one of two alternative tracks and drives five successive laps on either track, after which the game shows both the full race time and the best lap time. Downloading the game to your phone costs EUR 4.95 plus a normal GPRS data transmission charge.
Third-generation applications for business use
Faster data transmission and new applications have increased the attractiveness of mobile communications in the business world. New phones and user interfaces make services more functiol and easier to use. New applications, such as Sonera Mobile Gate, offer secure and easy-to-use wireless connections to a company's local area network. In addition, multimedia messaging services provide new opportunities for companies to increase the efficiency of their operations.
On September 26, 2002, Sonera will demonstrate these and other services operating on 2G and 3G networks to give a preview of the forthcoming world of mobile services.