Nokia Testing Wi-Fi Calling in Finland

Nokia said Thursday that it had begun a two-month trial of UMA technology in the city of Oulu in west central Finland. The company has recruited 50 families who will test out the technology using the Nokia 6136, a Wi-Fi-equipped phone. The device is one of the first by the company to support UMA.

UMA, short for unlicensed mobile access, allows the user to seamlessly hand off calls between Internet and GSM networks. When in range of a Wi-Fi or Bluetooth hotspot, calls would be placed over the Internet using VoIP. When the user moves out of range, the call hands off to the local GSM, GPRS or UMTS network.

"This pilot project is an important step forward in bringing functional UMA technology to the mass market," Nokia mobile phones research and development senior vice president Peter Ropke said. "Both operators and consumers will be able to garner the benefits of this new technology."

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Supporters of the technology say it would decrease the cost for mobile phone operators to offer service in remote areas through Wi-Fi hotspots. Additionally, users would be able to place phone calls from home using their own wireless networks.

The project is a joint effort between the city of Oulu, Nokia and DNA/Finnet, a local telecommunications company. Last year, Oulu began offering free Wi-Fi access at various hotspots around the city, which Nokia said would be used in assessing the viability of UMA.

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