The global information society will be driven by wireless technology as mobile telephony continues its rapid growth into the next millennium, said Nokia chief executive Jorma Ollila this week.
Ollila was giving the keynote speech at the European IT Conference and predicted that the third generation of mobile communications, including multimedia and Internet, will arrive by 2002.
"We will see the third generation by 2001/2002, and I want to underline that these forecasts are very realistic, both in terms of handsets and networks."
"The electronic commerce of the future will not just be based on PCs, but by 2002 it will be possible by mobiles also," he added.
Recent independent forecasts from telecomms consultants have seen 2003 to 2005 as more likely target dates for third generation mobile technologies to gain mass markets.
Ollila said there is remarkable growth in mobile telephony, particularly in his native Finland where penetration has now reached 40 per cent.
Countries such as Finland, Sweden and Japan will have the same number of mobile customers as fixed line subscribers by 2002-2003, he said.
"By the year 2000 penetration figures will be over 50 per cent in some countries. The roll-out of mobile telephony will be quicker than that of PCs," he claimed.
"There are 195 million subscribers worldwide today. At present growth rates that will be 470 million by the end of 2000."
Referring to the conference theme of converging technologies, Ollila said mobile growth will stimulate demand for the Internet. People who are demanding and using improved mobile telecomms services are the same people who are driving the Internet's advance, he said.
Developments in GSM, the second generation norm, will improve the maximum data exchange capability from 9.6Kbps to 384Kbps by 2000, but third generation terminals will be capable of 2Mbps, which will allow the transmission of 125 pages of information per second, he said.
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