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3GSM Enthusiastic welcome for the idea of a new, faster and much bigger capacity SIM for mobile phones, after M-Systems launched the device at 3GSM this week, came from software providers and downloader sellers. Operator Orange joined with Oberthur Card Systems to unveil the device.

The idea should be popular with people who download applications, because it means that if you upgrade the phone then - as long as the new phone is compatible - the old apps, ringtones, and other content will remain available.

Currently, the digital rights management software restricts you to the ID of the phone itself, and buying a new phone is like trying to run CDs on an old LP turntable.

The device on show today was not just vastly bigger in terms of capacity at 512 megabytes (compared with 16 or 32 kilobytes free on a 64 kilobyte chip, for standard SIMS) but is also faster, running at 20 megabits a second, instead of the usual 9.6 to 128 kilobits per second of the normal config chip. Ultimate capacity is "whatever the technology provides", Ira Cohen, VP marketing of the company said.

Backers of the new technology included Picsel, whose file browser was being demonstrated on the M-Systems booth.

This isn't the first time Oberthur Card Systems has touted the big card; before M-Systems appeared, it was sold as the giga integrated circuit, or GIGAntIC SIM.

Orange will be the first mobile network to use the chip "to offer multimedia content services to subscribers" starting in France, where it will appear in an LG U8210 phone.

At M-Systems, they seemed more excited about the anti-virus opportunities, demonstrating F-Secure and McAfee anti-virus software and talking about anti-spam software.

"We think one important application will be Migo," M-Systems staff said. "It means you connect your phone to someone else's PC, and all your basic desktop settings can be loaded instantly, while you synch data. But it also means that you can transform a phone from a branded phone on one network, into one that looks like a different network."

The new device is fundamentally a memory card, using most MMC specs, but adding the bits and pieces needed to function as a SIM card. As phone makers adopt the standard, it will be possible to expand its capacity to a gigabyte, two gig, and onwards, the company said.

In an ordinary phone it functions as an ordinary SIM, without the expanded capacity or speed.

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