Mobile phone subscribers will begin to use digital cellular infrastructure for text, data and eventually video transmission throughput, according to Jouko Paivinen, managing director of Nokia Telecommunications in Hong Kong. This in turn, would dramatically reduce the percentage of voice traffic carried on mobile phone networks. Mr Paivinen said the penetration of mobile phones and the acceptance of the phones had risen to a point where they were becoming more useful and subscribers were looking to utilise their phone networks for specific applications. He cited the recent introduction of the Nokia N9000 Communicator, available in Hong Kong this month through Hongkong Telecom CSL, as a major step towards raising awareness and adoption of text and short message services (SMS) functions on mobile phone networks. Mr Paivinen, who took up his position as managing director of Nokia Telecommunications, Hong Kong - the local infrastructure division of the Finnish group in November - last year, said the number of pager subscribers in Hong Kong was falling. 'This may sound biased coming from a mobile telecommunications company, but this innovation in text transfer is the very thing that will eat away at the pager market,' Mr Paivinen said. 'A few operators have begun Chinese character SMS and this will be the driver for people to move to a phone away from the pager market.' Scandanavian network operators had to increase their capacity for SMS recently. While it was an easy procedure, there was a growing capacity requirement for data because image files and data required more bandwidth than pure voice traffic. His previous role as vice-president of worldwide marketing and base station sales meant he was familiar with the Hong Kong cellular and fixed telecoms scene, especially with Hongkong Telecom CSL, Nokia's largest customer in the territory. Nokia also clinched deals with two of the six PCS (personal communications service) network operators, which obtained licences to operate systems on the DCS1800 standard. P Plus and New World Telephone will use Nokia systems as they complete their network infrastructure for launch this year. On the strength of anticipated network growth, Nokia has expanded its technical support capability in Hong Kong, also opening a customer training centre. Mr Paivinen said his division was often the forgotten part of the mobile telecoms network, providing something that people did not really need to know about. 'We are on the boring end, the backbone,' he said. 'I don't know what sort of mail server we use in our computer system, I just need to know that it works. The same applies with mobile telephone networks. 'Handsets are the intriguing devices to the user.' Nokia treats Hongkong Telecom CSL as its priority customer worldwide because of what Mr Paivinen describes as its culture of innovation to improve network performance and radio systems usage. 'Hong Kong is a unique place when it comes to property, population and with telecommunications coverage because of the dense urban areas,' he said. 'The available frequency is quite scarce in Hong Kong and, if you don't innovate, looking for more capacity for your network, offering value-added services, you won't survive.' He said Hong Kong trailed only Scandinavia and Australia in terms of mobile phone penetration, with an estimated 17 per cent of usage. However, he said cities such as Hong Kong, Sydney, Helsinki and Stockholm offered challenges in network coverage because they were built on the waterfront.