Exclusive: Nokia video phones next year

Nokia is looking beyond its next model, the 9110, and into the age of video telecoms, believing it will have the first videoconferencing mobile phone this side of the millennium.

"Next year we will have third generation wireless applications," said UK press officer Vicky Fox. "It'll be almost like a Psion, but a mobile phone as well." And will it have videoconferencing facilities next year? "Yes."

As early as 1996, Nokia has been promising videoconferencing on the phone. Then, the device was to be based around a small monitor that plugged into the handset. "It's very hard to speculate when a product's going to be ready," said Fox.

However the Department of Trade and Industry's move towards UMTS, the Universal Mobile Telecommunications Services standard, is pushing hard for Europe-wide services such as virtual banking, online entertainment, and videoconferencing, all on the mobile phone. The DTI is preparing to begin airwave auctions for UMTS in February.

It is not certain, however, how Nokia plans to achieve a working prototype in 1999 as transmission testing is not due until 2000 and a full UMTS service is not scheduled until 2002.