Nokia chief blames networks for late 3G

Jorma Ollila, the chairman and chief executive of Nokia, hit back yesterday at criticism from Vodafone about the quality of phones it is developing for new high-speed 3G services.

Vodafone's chief executive, Arun Sarin, attacked 3G handsets made by companies such as Nokia on Tuesday at an industry conference in Cannes as being unacceptable in their present form. He said they were too bulky, had insufficient battery life and got too hot when used.

Mr Ollila took the opportunity in Cannes yesterday to fire back at Mr Sarin. He claimed the problem was as much to do with poor quality and unreliable networks, operated by the likes of Vodafone, as the handset makers dragging their feet.

You do have a chicken and egg situation," he said. "When a company like ourselves develops networks simultaneously we work on handsets. The way the testing works is clearly that you need to have your handsets tested by all the major networks with them all having their networks ready and stable and being able to test the phones against the networks. Without the stability of networks you cannot do realistic testing of handsets.''

Mr Ollila said the highly technical nature of 3G handsets and services meant they had taken longer to develop than previous technologies.

Nokia recently moved to take a majority stake in Symbian, the industry-owned mobile phone operating system business. However Mr Ollila yesterday said he hoped the other Symbian shareholders, including the likes of Sony Ericsson, would take up their pre-emption rights to more shares. He repeated Nokia's commitment to keeping Symbian as an open operating system owned by several industry players.