Nokia Corp plans to launch a phone for the consumer market with a SIP client on the device, enabling users to access VoIP services that comply with that protocol and potentially reducing their bill for mobile voice calling.
Rauno Toivonen, director of voice solutions product marketing at the Espoo, Finland-based vendor's enterprise solutions division, said the consumer handset division is looking at launching a phone in the first half of next year for such services. The SIP compliance would preclude Skype, which uses a proprietary protocol, but would enable VoIP calling using services from ISPs and CATV companies.
Toivonen's division is working with networking vendor Cisco Systems Inc and enterprise telephony vendor Avaya Inc in three areas: IP PBX, hosted IP PBX, and IP Centrex. In all three cases, the plan is to launch Nokia phones with VoIP clients on them (in Avaya's case, SIP compliant, and in Cisco's, using the SCCP or "Skinny SIP" protocol) so that PBX functionality such as four-digit calling, single-number access across multiple devices, conferencing, and call forwarding is extendable to the mobile phone.
The phones will be dual-mode cellular and WLAN, and in the first half of 2006 the PBX extension will be over a WLAN only. Later in the year that functionality will also reach the cellular network, Toivonen said. Nokia does not, however, envisage the enablement of roaming between the two network types in either phase. "That's for the future," he said.
Call handover is technically possible today, and companies such as the Norwegian developer Birdstep Technology ASA would claim to have been enabling it for several years. If anything, the real issue is a business rather than technical one, in that a call made over the WLAN would be free whereas a cellular would not, so operators will have to decide whether they are happy to bill only for the part of a call that traverses their network or also charge for enabling the handover, regardless of whether it is exiting or entering the cellular domain.