Nokia ships 3G phone to Asia, Europe

Business travelers looking for high-speed connectivity will appreciate a new broadband cell phone that Nokia Corp. has begun shipping to European and Asian operators and retailers.

Nokia is delivering its dual-mode third generation (3G) 6650 phone, which operates on both Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) and Wideband Code Division Multiple Access (WCDMA) networks, to Japan’s J-Phone Co. Ltd. and to Mobilkom Austria AG & Co. KG, the Espoo, Finland, mobile phone manufacturer said Friday in a statement.

During the second half of this year Nokia plans to ship the 6650 phone to other mobile operators in Asia and Europe, as they go live with 3G mobile broadband services, according to Nokia spokesman Damian Stathonikos.

Over the next six months, the company expects about 20 operators worldwide to introduce WCDMA either as their main radio technology or as an enhancement to their existing GSM networks, Nokia said.

The phone will sell for under 600 euros (US$708) without tax and subsidies, according to Stathonikos. “The prices will vary according to local market conditions and operator subsidies,” he said. “It’s still early days with 3G, so we’re not seeing huge volumes yet, which will have an impact on prices.”

Nokia claims to be the first manufacturer to provide a phone that allows users to roam seamlessly between GSM/ General Packet Radio Service (GPRS) and WCDMA networks. “The 6650 model is definitely the first phone that provides seamless hand-over capability during a voice or data connection,” Stathonikos said.

The phone has gone through thorough testing, Stathonikos said. “We’ve had more than 20,000 handsets being tested with just about every WCDMA network out there,” he said.

One of the main advantages of a dual-mode GSM/WCDMA phone is that users can take advantage of the huge 900/1800 band GSM footprint in Europe, Asia and Africa to place voice calls or make GPRS data connections, according to Stathonikos. In areas where WCDMA is available, they can seamlessly connect to the high-speed network without losing the connection, he said.

Although WDCMA is designed to provide maximum speeds of up to 2Mbps, most operators initially plan to provide speeds up to 384Kbps.