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Gearing up for handset production

OPINION: In some ways, NFC seems very simple. Stick an RF antenna in a phone, link it to a secure element so that sensitive data can be stored safely, and off you go. Or maybe not…

As Stollmann’s Christian Luhrs explained this week, it’s relatively simple to make a single phone for use in low volume field test environments. Handset manufacturers, though, tend to be more interested in the mass market, where technologies need to be quick and easy to implement and to keep up to date across multiple devices and multiple platforms.

And, for that, you need international standards — which we have. And you need both standards-compliant components and software tools that mean a manufacturer doesn’t have to re-invent the wheel every time it wants to add functionality to a new device. And that, with deals like the one signed by Stollmann and STMicroelectronics, is now finally becoming a reality.

Sarah Clark, Editor

5 comments on this article

  1. If you think technology is the only thing holding back NFC, you're sorely mistaken. A good part of the problem is the wrestling match between the handset makers, bankers and carriers over how they're going to divide up the economic pie, including who will own the secure element. The technology and standards are there, and have been for some time.

    1. Ouch! Did you read our article on Stollmann and STMicro before you wrote your comment? (I've now added a direct link to it above).

      Yes, of course there are business issues with NFC too. And we write about them all the time here at NFCW.

      What this article is pointing out is that, in terms of semiconductor development timescales, technology and standards have *not* been there 'for some time'. In fact, in terms of enabling handset manufacturers to make commercially viable mass volume NFC devices, we are only just getting started.

      And, as we've found during our research for The NFC Report (, there are several parts of the world where the business issues have already been fully worked out. All that is now holding them back from a commercial launch is a lack of handsets…

    2. Please add the card makers as one of the players in the politics … There is no incentive for the card makers to promote NFC as it will essentially reduce the volume of cards. To deploy NFC, it is certainly important to take it as a strategic tool to win market.

  2. Which card-makers? SIM vendors will have new business because people will need new UICCs in the phones. Tag vendors will have an increased market as tags are used to identify SmartPoster, medicine, daily items, money, etc. Maybe regular SmartCard vendors (plastic cards) will face decreased volumes, but they can push now their service to phones and charge for the operation.

  3. I am afraid but I am still unable to understand the specific difference between SIM , Secure Element (SE) and UICC. Who are the UICC vendors or manufactures? What is the role of the SE and UICC in NFC handsets?

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