Nokia Makes First Audio Visual Immersive Phone Call

Conference room phone calls can be made clearer with Nokia's new immersive audio visual technology
From GSM to 5G, Nokia has a legacy in phone call firsts. This week, Nokia made a phone call using immersive audio visual technology, for clearer calls

In 1991, GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications), was first introduced. GSM digitises and compresses data, then sends it through a channel with two other streams of user data, each in its own time slot, while operating at 900 megahertz (MHz) or 1,800 MHz frequency bands. GSM is now referred to as 2G, an old relic in mobile technology. But the potential of GSM was so exciting, a continent-wide telecommunications race was launched in Europe, with various companies vying to make the first commercial call on the new European standard for digital cellular networks.

After years of dedicated work, the day came. On 1st July 1991, former Finnish Prime Minister Harri Holkeri and Kaarina Suonio, Deputy Mayor of Tampere, enjoyed a three minute call, the first official GSM communication. This development went on to transform the telecommunications sector and made Nokia a global brand. 

The call was also witnessed by Nokia’s now-CEO, Pekka Lundmark, who this week witnessed a phone call made using immersive audio and video technology, which improves the quality of a call with three-dimensional sound.

Developing audio visual technology for high quality phone calls

At present, smartphone calls compress audio together, which can lose details and make sounds feel flat. This new technology will bring 3D audio to callers, making phone calls feel like conversations in the same room. 

As most smartphones have two microphones, this immersive audio and video technology can be implemented by transmitting the characteristics of a call, as they happen. 

This may be most useful in conference calls, where participants can be separated based on their spatial locations, to prevent a disorganised and clunky audio experience.

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Nokia’s 5G development - from Taiwan to Peru

Nokia made this first phone call using a smartphone, over a public 5G network. The immersive audio visual technology is part of the 5G Advanced standard, which Nokia hopes to secure licensing opportunities with.

"It is the biggest leap forward in the live voice calling experience since the introduction of monophonic telephony audio used in smartphones and PCs today," said Jenni Lukander, president of Nokia Technologies. "This is now becoming standardised ... so the network providers, chipset manufacturers, handset manufacturers can begin to implement it in their products."

Reflecting on the thirty year gap between the two famous phone calls, Pekka said he was proud of Nokia once more, for "demonstrating the future of voice calls."

Meanwhile, Nokia has been working alongside other companies to roll out its 5G network. In Taiwan, the company plans on making 5G available to 80% of the population. Nokia 5G has 72 live networks and 189 deals, it is being used in smart stadiums, video surveillance and cloud robotics.

Nokia is set to open a new contract with Portuguese telecoms operator MEO (previously known as Telecom Portugal), to supply 5G radio equipment. It is also deploying its fibre network across the Amazon rainforest, using Global Fiber Peru, a future-proof Optical, IP and fibre broadband network. This extensive network will help to minimise the digital divide and connect 400 communities to multi-gigabit broadband. 

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