Feeds

NFC gains Wi-Fi connection, loses name

Proximity payments standard suffers ID crisis

Build a business case: developing custom apps

MWC With Wi-Fi-connected toggles and single-wire-protocol SIMs, everyone seems to be trying to make NFC work, even if it's not going to be called that any more.

Advocates of Near Field Communications (NFC) keep holding trials of the technology - there's even one here in Barcelona during the Congress - but users and operators still don't get the point of NFC, which in turn means that manufacturers have no incentive to embed the technology. Meanwhile, the NFC Forum has noticed that it doesn't even own the "NFC" brand and has been forced to create a new logo, while it tries to explain that it never intended anyone to call the technology "NFC" in the first place.

The NFC trial running at the Congress is pretty typical: NFC World reports the details of 400 Samsung handsets and SIMs loaded with €60 of air time, and €75 to spend on snacks around the congress. This enables those running the trial to declare it a success when all the free money is spent.

The only interesting part is the fact that these handsets have embedded NFC antennas connected to SIMs and communicate over the Single Wire Protocol (SWP). This was developed for just such circumstances as these, but it has hardly had an outing since the specification was published more than two years ago.

Handsets supporting SWP were supposed to allow operators to deploy NFC without having to involve handset manufacturers, only operators have never asked manufacturers to include the technology and they've little incentive to do so otherwise.

Getting around the problem are Sagem Orga and Telenor, who've created an NFC key-fob-sized toggle to make use of Sagem's new Wi-Fi-enabled SIM. The idea is that the toggle has NFC and Wi-Fi too, and communicates with the NFC infrastructure - such as the ticket gate or pay point - and passes that communication over a 2.4GHz Wi-Fi signal, which is strong enough to penetrate the phone's casing. We like this idea a lot, but it should really be combined with the Home Office idea of an NFC card which is then used to authenticate the transaction - there's nothing like using three radio transceivers to replace one paper ticket.

The other alternative is, of course, to give up NFC and use RF SIM instead - as China Mobile and others are doing. But what's interesting is that those companies happily describe their 2.4GHz-battery-powered RF SIM as "an NFC technology", despite its clear difference from NFC's 13.56MHz-induced-current-powered tech.

Only it turns out that it isn't. When we contacted the NFC Forum (publishers of the NFC specifications) we were told that "The NFC Forum has not sought to trademark registration for, or asserted exclusive rights to the individual terms 'near field communications' or 'NFC'". So they haven't sought it, but perhaps they should have done, as now the Forum admits that "these are general terms used to describe short-range high-frequency wireless communications technology".

But that's not what the NFC Forum has been saying in the past, and indeed it's not what its web site says now on its "About NFC" page: "operating at 13.56MHz and transferring data at up to 424Kbits/sec, NFC provides intuitive, simple and safe connections between electronic devices". That all sounds pretty specific to us.

The new logo, coming from the NFC Forum

N-Mark, the new name for NFC, which was never called NFC, apparently.

The NFC Forum has already expanded its (NFC) standards to incorporate MiFare and similar systems, so perhaps this is all a long-term play for when RF SIM comes along and replaces everything else. That way, the "NFC Forum" can still claim success and hope that no-one remembers the long-failed standard it tried so hard to promote. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
UK fuzz want PINCODES on ALL mobile phones
Met Police calls for mandatory passwords on all new mobes
Canadian ISP Shaw falls over with 'routing' sickness
How sure are you of cloud computing now?
Don't call it throttling: Ericsson 'priority' tech gives users their own slice of spectrum
Actually it's a nifty trick - at least you'll pay for what you get
Three floats Jolla in Hong Kong: Says Sailfish is '3rd option'
Network throws hat into ring with Linux-powered handsets
Fifteen zero days found in hacker router comp romp
Four routers rooted in SOHOpelessly Broken challenge
New Sprint CEO says he will lower axe on staff – but prices come first
'Very disruptive' new rates to be revealed next week
US TV stations bowl sueball directly at FCC's spectrum mega-sale
Broadcasters upset about coverage and cost as they shift up and down the dials
Trans-Pacific: Google spaffs cash on FAST undersea packet-flinging
One of 6 backers for new 60 Tbps cable to hook US to Japan
Tech city types developing 'Google Glass for the blind' app
An app and service where other people 'see' for you
UK mobile coverage is BETTER than EVER, networks tell Ofcom
Regulator swallows this line and parrots it back out at us. What are they playing at?
prev story

Whitepapers

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup
IT departments are embracing cloud backup, but there’s a lot you need to know before choosing a service provider. Learn all the critical things you need to know.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.
Rethinking backup and recovery in the modern data center
Combining intelligence, operational analytics, and automation to enable efficient, data-driven IT organizations using the HP ABR approach.
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.