Another example of fast mobile Internet access is the Nokia Communicator 9210 handheld computer, which doubles as a phone. When connected to the Orange network, the 9210 is able to provide Internet access up to 28.8kbps through a technique known as high-speed circuit switched data.
This effectively gives users two timeslots on the network, doubling the bandwidth on downloads from 14.4kbps to 28.8kbps for a cost of 25p per minute on the Orange network. Ray Haddon, Nokia mobile phones business development manager, says that at this speed “it becomes feasible for users to download their e-mail”.
Another new phone from Nokia is the 7650, a GPRS-based phone equipped with a mini digital camera. While geared to the snap-happy consumer who can use the phone to take and send e-mail pictures directly, it can also be used in certain business areas. One example Haddon suggests is insurance damage assessment. “An insurance assessor could take digital pictures of the damage, add text and audio then send all the information back to the office.”
Multimedia messaging in this way is one area 3G networks are set to revolutionise. At the moment users can send text messages via Short Message Service (SMS) over the mobile phone Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) network. However the Wireless Village Initiative, an industry group focused on building standards for messaging, has just released a specification for multimedia messaging.
Frank Dawson, who chairs the Wireless Village specification committee, says the overall goal is to allow people to communicate through different services between mobile phones, PCs and fixed-line telephones. As an example, he says, “You could send an instant message from your PC through SMS to a mobile phone.”
Alternatively you could use GPRS and wireless messaging software on a mobile phone to send instant messages to friends and contacts using instant messenger services from AOL and MSN.
If you are the type of person who never has the right cables, then the fast-growing wireless connectivity market is for you. Users have a choice of handheld computers, notebook PCs, mobile phones, wireless Internet technologies and operators. In time, it is likely that these will come together to change the landscape of mobile communications forever. But for now the dominant mobile phone standard is still GSM and it will be some time before everyone has high-speed wireless Internet access from his or her phone.
Setting standards for messaging
The Wireless Village Initiative’s Multimedia Messaging Version 1.0 specification has four main parts:
nPresence services will subtly change the way people communicate, says Frank Dawson, who chairs the specification committee. Through Presence Services users will be able to check the availability of the people they are trying to contact. It will also allow users to tell callers who are trying to contact them the means by which the user can be contacted, such as e-mail, voicemail, phone or instant messaging. Practically speaking, these services will work in a similar way to the Profiles menu on some mobile phones today that is used to change the phone ring depending on whether the user is indoors, outdoors or does not want to be disturbed.
nInstant messaging uses the Web’s HTTP to send messages in near real-time between users.