As part of its joint 3G launch event with Nokia, Sonera has shown a range of multimedia services which operate over its existing GPRS network and its trial UMTS infrastructure. Services include directory enquiries enhanced with maps and location technology, an integrated messaging centre, live news and weather updates and Java games.
Sonera has worked to make these new services available to all of its customers, providing a seamless experience regardless of whether the user has a greyscale WAP handset on a 2.5G network or an advanced colour screen device such as the Nokia 6650. However, some services, such as multimedia messaging and Java downloads, require the Nokia 7650 Symbian smartphone.
The Finnish network operator has opted to price most of its services for individual accesses. For instance, a map search will cost EUR 0.66 and a directory enquiry will cost EUR 0.59. Java game downloads will be priced at EUR 4.95. Users will be charged standard GPRS transmission fees for WAP browsing and access to content-based sites such as news and weather.
Sonera will roll the services out to existing GPRS customers and a limited number of 3G subscribers participating in its commercial UMTS trial. Full commercial deployment of UMTS is expected in Q1 2003.
It is still a dissappointment that the formerly bullish Sonera has failed to get its commercial 3G launch completed before the end of 2002. But, to give credit where it’s due, Sonera has put together a compelling package of services, made efforts to ensure their widespread availability and priced them sensibly.
Mauro Sentinelli, Managing Director of Telecom Italia Mobile, made a valid point recently when he reminded analysts that the user shouldn’t even be aware of whether they were using a 2.5G or 3G network. This is true and, if Sonera can deliver exciting applications which drive data growth over 2.5G infrastructure, there is no reason why the user should be interested in what type of radio interface is being used.
However, while Sonera’s picture messaging, location-based and gaming services are all interesting, it has admitted that it will need to wait for 3G before it can deliver true multimedia such as video and music downloads, video messaging and video conferencing. The service package announced today, particularly the clearly defined price structure (as recommended in Marek Pawlowski’s article ‘Multimedia Messaging‘), is a good starting point, but Sonera must now concentrate on getting 50 percent UMTS coverage by mid-2003.
Originally published by PMN Mobile Industry Intelligence, the subscription-based analysis and insight platform founded by Marek Pawlowski.