SK Telecom embeds NFC in SIM card

SK Telecom embeds NFC in SIM card

Technology News |
By eeNews Europe

The company plans to launch the product out in October 2011 for enterprise customers in Korea. This will be followed by roll out in overseas markets including China to accelerate the spread of mobile payment infrastructure.

NFC is already used with some automated ticket systems and is being included on the motherboards of mobile handsets and smartphones, so-called NFC phones, as a means of enabling "wave-and-pay" and other services. NFC can also be used to download information from passive tags, most usually in the form of a URL that can be used as a destination for a smartphone browser. It operates on a 13.56-MHz carrier and allows data exchange between two devices over a distance of about 10 centimeters.

SK Telecom’s NFC-on-USIM is a special USIM {universal subscriber identity module] card embedded with a 13.56-MHz antenna, NFC chip and USIM chip. SK Telecom said it will provide details of the NFC-on-USIM application programming interface (API) to outside developers. The company did not disclose whose NFC chip it had designed in or whether it had developed an NFC chip itself but described NFC-on-USIM as "SK Telecom’s own technology."

"SK Telecom will position itself as the leader in the NFC-based business by constantly developing relevant technology and implementing appropriate business enhancement measures," said Ihm Jong-Tae, head of the Institute of Network Technology at SK Telecom, in a statement. However, some doubts remain about the NFC-on-USIM approach. One is that NFC-based services require appropriate software and physical connections to move incoming data to the baseband processor.

Cell phones not designed with NFC in mind, and therefore on the motherboard, will not necessarily be able to move or use the data arriving on the NFC-on-USIM module. The second is that SIM cards are inserted at various positions and depths within the body of a cell phone. It is not clear whether cell phones not designed to receive and transmit wirelessly through a SIM-born antenna will be able to do so at the expected distance or at all.

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