Mon, 06 Mar 2000

Nokia committed to developing mobile Internet in RI

By Sylvia Gratia M. Nirang

HONGKONG (JP): Finnish mobile communications company Nokia has said it is committed to developing the mobile Internet, using Wireless Application Protocol (WAP) technology in Indonesia.

Nokia Mobile Phones senior vice president for Asia Pacific Nigel Litchfield told The Jakarta Post that Nokia saw great prospects in developing WAP in Indonesia.

"The number of cellular and Internet users in Indonesia is still small, but the development we have seen in past years is very encouraging," he said on the sidelines of the launch of Nokia designed for life products here last week.

There are less than 2.5 million cellular phone users, about 6 million fixed line telephone subscribers and some 2 million computer users among Indonesia's total population of 210 million.

Litchfield said he was optimistic that the numbers would grow rapidly in the next couple of years.

The number of mobile Internet users in Indonesia was expected to reach about 2.6 million, or about 20 percent of the total mobile phone users projected in 2004, according to state telecommunications operator PT Telkom.

"That's why we have continued to launch our WAP-enabled products in Indonesia, although we know that Indonesia is not ready yet," he said. "It is also to ensure that we are ready to supply WAP phones when Indonesia is ready to adopt WAP."

WAP is a new global, open standard for handheld devices that will allow users to access on-line services without having to plug into a laptop computer.

WAP was initially introduced and developed in the late 1990s by mobile telecommunications system companies, including Nokia, Ericsson and Motorola, with the intention to open a mass market wireless Internet service.

Earlier this year, Nokia launched its Nokia 7110 phone in Indonesia. The product has claimed to be the world's first media phone that is based on WAP.

It is designed for easy access to Internet content from a mobile phone. It can access text information that is available on the Internet. This means news, weather reports, stock prices, e- mails, flight schedules or wireless banking and electronic commerce.

Litchfield acknowledged that growth of mobile Internet and WAP technology use might be slower in some countries, including Indonesia, due to the lack of access to the Internet and mobile phones.

One of the main obstacles in developing WAP in Indonesia is the unreadiness of cellular operators and Internet content providers in the country, he said.

But he added that to speed up the entrance of WAP in Indonesia, Nokia was helping Indonesian cellular operators by introducing WAP technology.

"We are helping Indonesian Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) operators by providing them with studies on developing WAP technology in order to embark on mobile Internet service," he said.

There are three existing GSM operators in the country, namely Telkomsel, Satelindo and Excelcomindo.

However, he suggested network operators to cooperate with content providers and vendors of infrastructures in order to be able to establish a complete service at a more reasonable cost.

Helping Indonesia adopt WAP technology was part of Nokia's commitment in developing WAP to pave the way for a mobile information society, he said.

Litchfield said in the future most mobile phones launched by Nokia would be WAP-enabled, such as the Nokia 6250 and the Nokia 6210 launched at the Nokia designed for life.

"The mobile Internet will be the major driven factor in its business development in the future. It brings significant business opportunities to us, given the robust growth of cellular and Internet users in the world," he said.

But aside from introducing WAP-enabled phones, Nokia will still continue selling its phones which are not WAP-enabled because of their high demand in several markets, including Indonesia's.

"We are very pleased with our sales in Indonesia over the past two years and we see that our sales here have continued to grow this year. Indonesia is one of the key markets for Nokia. It has a very high population, a population which is very acceptable for new products and services," he said.

"Even in the time of economic crisis in 1998, our sales in Indonesia increased albeit there had been a slowdown in growth of cellular sales on the market."

Sources close to Nokia told the Post that sales of the Nokia 9110 communicator, a pocket-sized advanced communication device which is designed as a mobile office for the affluent market, in Indonesia in 1999 were recorded as the highest in Asia-Pacific, despite its relatively high price.

According to data compiled by cell phone producers, the industry's monthly sales in Indonesia significantly increased from approximately 26,000 phones in 1997 to between 30,000 and 40,000 in 1998 and 70,000 in 1999.

New phones

Nokia launched two WAP-enabled phones at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Center last week.

The Nokia 6250 is a dust, shock and waterproof WAP-compliant phone designed for the outdoors and a rugged environment.

It is complete with shock absorbers and other tough mechanics to enable it to withstand a rough environment.

The phone is able to withstand temporary immersion in water without any harmful effects. It is also able to take a fall from a considerable height onto a hard surface.

Litchfield said the phone is combined with the Nokia WAP Server 1.0, which enables outdoor enthusiasts to access weather and news services while skiing, hiking or sailing.

"I am confident that this product will be of great interest among outdoor professionals, field service personnel and recreational or rugged hobbyists," Litchfield said.

The phone also comes complete with a sound level meter, stopwatch and an automatic volume control, which keeps the speaker volume at an optimum level depending on the environmental noise.

Weighing 167 grams and at 159cc, the Nokia 6250 has a talk time of up to 4 hours and 30 minutes and a standby time of up to 260 hours.

The Nokia 6210 is a slim, ergonomically designed business phone with WAP connectivity and high speed data modem capability, offering data rates of up to 43.2 kbps.

Its built-in High Speed Circuit Switched Data (HSCSD) modem allows up to a four-fold increase in data connectivity, enabling faster e-mailing, web browsing and file transfer.

Weighing 114 grams and at 18mm thick, the phone offers talk time of up to 4 hours and 30 minutes and standby time of up to 260 hours.

Litchfield said the phone was an evolution of the Nokia 6100 series, one of the most popular Nokia phones in Indonesia.

He said the two phones would enter the Indonesian market in the third quarter of this year.

He said Nokia would also upgrade its Nokia 9110 communicator to be WAP-compliant later this year.