Three complains to Brussels over NFC exclusion
We want in to the bonk-n-bleep alliance
The UK's smallest operator, Three, has launched a preemptive strike against the NFC gang of three which was announced in June, claiming its exclusion is competitively motivated.
The alleged cartel, which still lacks a name, is jointly owned by Everything Everywhere, Telefonica UK and Vodafone, and is intended to create a standard platform for the delivery of NFC-based advertising. The joint venture hasn't applied for regulatory approval yet, though it will have to soon, so Three's representation to the European Commission preempts that application.
The venture was announced in June, but despite being billed as a cross-operator initiative, Three's CEO says he didn't even hear of the deal until half an hour before it went public. The other operators say Three is welcome to sign up, just as Facebook or Skype is welcome to sign up, but only as a customer of the service, not an owner.
The single-platform plan is a good one: operators sensibly abandoning their dreams of raking a percentage of every electronic transaction, and instead ensuring that they get control over the electronic coupons and location-based advertising that NFC makes possible.
Those opportunities are significant as the secure element inherent in the Near Field Communications standard makes distribution (and use) of loyalty points and promotional vouchers possible, and it's not a business already dominated by Visa, Mastercard and their ilk.
Companies planning to use such things will want to deal with a single entity, so they can launch an electronic loyalty card and have it work on every NFC phone regardless of the network operator (and able to transition between network operators). That's what the joint venture is intended to provide, though without Three it lacks critical ubiquity.
Three reckons this is a deliberate move to stifle a growing competitor who is starting to take customers from its bigger rivals. The other operators say Three has never shown significant interest in NFC and their race to market would be delayed by including another company in the ownership structure.
The venture will need regulatory approval, and Three's arguments are pretty compelling. If a joint venture can't offer cross-network compatibility then it will simply fall to Apple and/or Google to provide the services on which the operators can't agree, and not for the first time. ®
No Flipping Clue
National Flight Centre, Nuclear Fuel Complex, National Football Convention, National Finance Centre, Network File Control, National Freight Corporation, National Fertilizer Corporation, who knows?
I wonder whether this is actually about some kind of "RFID" technology? There is nothing like a bit of confusing re-branding to make a flawed technology more secure. I seem to recall the UK Gov ministers avoiding the potential security and privacy problems with RFID tags in UK passports by the simple expedient of refusing to call it by that name. Perhaps the same thing is going on here, but it is hard to tell. In my view, an RFID tag by any other name smells just as bad.
NFC = Near Field Communications
You obviously have not been paying attention recently...
Time for the naughty step laddie.