Even though full commercial deployment of NFC is a ways off–by some estimates several years away–one handset manufacturer well positioned to take advantage of the new technology when it does go mainstream is Finnish handset manufacturer Nokia.
Its newest NFC phone, the Nokia 6216 Classic is its first commercial NFC device incorporating the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) single wire protocol standard (SWP), says Damien Balsan, Nokia’s head of NFC Business Development.
At first the phone will be deployed primarily in Europe and Asia since that is where most of the NFC projects are taking place, says Balsan. “However, we also hope that some carriers in the Americas will use the phone for their NFC roll outs or pre-commercial deployments.”
Probably the most important addition to this new phone is that it is Nokia’s first SIM-based NFC device. “It allows operators to securely store contactless NFC payment and ticketing applications on the SIM card. The advantage is that you can easily take your applications with you when you swap phones,” says Balsan.
Earlier Nokia NFC phones, such as the Nokia 6212 classic, did not support SIM-based NFC transactions. Instead the transaction information was stored on the memory of the device, Balsan says.
The Nokia 6216 classic is Nokia’s third NFC device, says Balsan. “Bringing a SIM-based NFC phone to market was a strong requirement from the carriers and the GSMA and remained an obstacle to major roll outs.”
The Global System for Mobile communications Association (GSMA) has been encouraging NFC launches and that they follow ETSI recommendations, including the single wire protocol standard for interface between the SIM card and the embedded NFC chipset.
“In addition to the benefits of SIM-based NFC transactions to the operators, the Nokia 6216 classic benefits the consumers as they could utilize these new services easily and conveniently if the infrastructure is set up,” says Balsan. “They could use the device as their travel card, contactless credit or loyalty card. A lot of the infrastructure for this already exists in countries where contactless credit or debit cards have been deployed.”
But Balsan believes other functionalities will also be deployed. “The ability to use the phone as an NFC tag reader with smart posters will trigger many new applications for segments of users that don’t browse the internet yet. NFC also provides easy access to digital content and services. Having all this on the phone, which has a 3G Internet connection, allows users to access services thru just one tap.”
Developers and integrators from all over the world, he adds, are starting to build up a contactless ecosystem for different applications. “The phones and SDK are accessible thru Forum Nokia at http://www.forum.nokia.com/ and tags are available from different manufacturers recommended by the NFC Forum.”
Overall, the new device brings NFC one step closer to widespread rollouts. “There is a lot of work needed to be ready for a fully implemented NFC Ecosystem in 2010 and we hope to see more devices from other handset makers. We believe that the 6216 will help carriers prepare for a wider roll out,” says Balsan.