Nokia, Sonera apply GSM roaming to wireless LAN

Nokia Corp. and Finnish telecommunication company Sonera Corp. have completed their first joint tests for using GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications) and SIM (Subscriber Identification Module) authentication to access corporate networks over Wireless LAN (WLAN) access points, the companies announced Wednesday.

Sonera, which already offers broadband wireless Internet access based on Wireless LAN technology to its corporate customers, plans to offer the Sonera wGate service beginning in the first half of 2002, Sonera and Nokia said in a statement.

The service will offer users roaming capabilities over GSM core networks in wGate service areas, such as hotels and airports, that will offer WLAN public access points, the companies said.

In order to use the WLAN public access points, the user's notebook computer must be installed with a WLAN card that has a SIM card inside it. Current GSM mobile phones use SIM cards to authenticate a user on a mobile network.

In June, Nokia announced it was testing the technology for bringing SIM authentication to WLAN service and that Sonera had signed on to pilot the new service with plans to install WLAN access points in 25 airports in Finland by the end of 2002. Nokia's WLAN service is currently being piloted by a total of 20 operators, the company said.

Nokia envisions a worldwide rollout of the service, including in the U.S. where SIM cards are not commonly used, as 3G (third- generation) network technologies take off in the next three to four years. The general use of 3G will lead to future PC cards combining WLAN support with 3G and GPRS (General Packet Radio Service) support, Nokia said in June.

Already, there are over 20,000 roaming agreements between mobile operators that enable over 500 million roaming phone calls every month, Nokia said.

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