Nokia launched the very first public test of Unlicensed Mobile Access (UMA), a mobile technology promising cell-phone users greater mobility.

The tests are the first of its kind utilizing the UMA standard, a protocol allowing phones to use the voice-over-internet-protocol (VOIP) standard when wireless internet is available, and the standard global system for mobile communications (GSM) when they are not.

UMA technology truly brings simplicity in the usage of voice over IP, said Peter Ropke, senior vice president of Nokia's Mobile Phones R&D. This pilot project is an important step forward in bringing functional UMA technology to the mass market. Both operators and consumers will be able to garner the benefits of this new technology.

Fifty families are participating in Nokia's UMA pilot program, which is being rolled out in the city of Oulu, Finland. The city, which is equipped with numerous publicly funded WiFi hotspots, is an ideal location for the experiment.

Participants will use Nokia 6136 phones, which are equipped with dual-mode UMA components and are said to provide smooth and seamless transitions between quad-band GSM and the wireless internet standard, 802.11b/g .