Nokia Testing Wi-Fi Mobile Calls

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Nokia, the world’s largest mobile handsetmaker, announced today that it is conducting a small, two-month trail of Unlicensed Mobile Access (UMA) calling over Wireless LAN technology wit 50 families in in the northern Finnish city of Oulu. The trial uses Nokia 6136 handsets (Finnish) and enables users to make phone calls over the Internet when they’re in range of unlicensed wireless networks like Bluetooth or Wi-Fi access points.

“UMA technology truly brings simplicity in the usage of voice over IP,” says Peter Ropke, Nokia’s Senior Vice President of Mobile Phones R&D. “This pilot project is an important step forward in bringing functional UMA technology to the mass market. Both operators and consumers will be able to garner the benefits of this new technology.”

In theory, UMA lets users roam and hand off communications between local area networks and wide-area networks using a singe device: when users move out of range of wireless Internet service, the connection automatically transfers to UMTS, GPRS, or GSM mobile phone technologies.

UMA technology appeals to mobile operators because they can extend phone coverage to areas more economically serviced by Internet technologies rather than cellular base stations. Similarly, the technology may appeal to users who can seamlessly use their phones over their Internet service without losing any advantages of traditional mobile phones. Although we can’t imagine that makes landline operators very happy.