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Last Updated: Monday, 13 February 2006, 12:02 GMT
Nokia launching net call handsets
Nokia 6136
The Voip service will initially be available on two Nokia handsets
Nokia is introducing new mobile phone handsets that will enable users to make calls over the internet.

The latest firm to move into internet telephony, users of certain new Nokia handsets will be able to make calls through their wireless broadband link.

The calls will be routed through their net link if their phone is in range. Outside of this the handset will return to the standard mobile phone network.

Internet telephony or voice-over IP (Voip) is seeing a surge in popularity.

Last autumn retail giant DSG International started selling internet phone call starter kits at its Dixons, Currys, The Link and PC World stores.

Industry showcase

Under Voip technology, phone conversations are converted into packets of data which are transmitted down the same wires used to browse the internet, promising cheaper calls than across standard phone networks.

Motorola RAZR handset
BT's Voip service - BT Fusion - uses Motorola handsets

While most internet phone kits come with a phone headset that is directly plugged into a person's computer, telecoms giant BT has already beaten Nokia to launch a mobile phone version called BT Fusion.

It is not yet known which mobile phone network providers will be available under the new Nokia service, nor whether a user will have to choose a specific internet service provider.

It will initially be available on two Nokia phones - the 6136 and the N80.

Nokia made the Voip announcement at the mobile phone industry's annual 3GSM World Congress in Barcelona, which showcases the sector's latest technological developments.

'Baffled consumers'

Yet while Nokia and its rivals unveil their newest models and services, some analysts continue to maintain that users remain unconvinced by the latest 3G phone services, such as videos on your handset.

Ralf Oberbannscheidt, a fund manager at Deutsche Bank's DWS fund-management unit, which owns substantial share holdings in both Vodafone and Deutsche Telecom, says the problem is that most people will not pay extra for such services.

"The problem is that customers are used to cheap phone calls and don't expect prices to go higher," he said.

Looking at Vodafone's user numbers, it has 179.3 million global subscribers, of which just 8 million currently use 3G services.

And a recent UK survey by market research firm YouGov found that 79% of people see mobile phone services becoming more complicated.

Only 8% of those it spoke to said they were planning to upgrade to 3G.

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