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Orange aims to rollout Europe-wide NFC ecosystem by 2012

22 сентября 2011

Orange detailed plans this week to work with other mobile operators in a bid to establish a commercial NFC ecosystem that will span Europe by 2012.

"We view NFC as an ecosystem play," said Daniel Gurrola, vice president of strategy and business development at Orange, during a press event in Nice on Monday.

The operator has three pillars to its NFC "acceleration strategy". Firstly, it intends to "seed" the market with NFC-compatible SIMs and devices. Secondly, it aims to build each country's ecosystem in order to establish the technology; and thirdly, it plans to "form a worldwide alliance" charged with growing the NFC market.

In Nice, Orange has worked with rival operators Bouygues and SFR, as well as MVNO NRJ, to launch the Cityzi service, which gives service providers access to a standardised platform to distribute NFC services, such as payment and loyalty card replacement, ticketing, and mobile promotions in the form of NFC tags. Over 150,000 Cityzi-enabled devices have been sold so far.

"It's not a product, it's an ecosystem," Gurrola reiterated, adding that to make NFC a success requires cooperation between tier one sviceer providers, governments, and standards bodies.

To that end, a source close to the matter told Total Telecom that Slovakia's telecoms regulator, the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of the Slovak Republic, has recently given permission for Orange to hold talks with other operators in the country about working together on NFC services, overcoming a significant hurdle facing the technology.

Orange plans in the long term to drive the rollout of international NFC services, where a U.K. citizen could pay for a French tram ticket using just their phone, for instance.

Orange's NFC chief Vincent Barnaud said the rollout will be gradual as more NFC devices are added to the operator's portfolio.

"Don't expect a big D-day," Barnaud told Total Telecom on Monday, adding that it would be more about growth over the next few years than a sudden launch.

The French government is also very supportive of the technology, according to Barnaud, and has allocated €20 million to help boost NFC deployment.

"In 2012 you will have a growing number of areas where the local government will try to create a larger density of [NFC] usage," Barnaud said.

Orange's Cityzi platform creates an interface between the NFC service provider and the mobile operator, eliminating the need for a Trusted Services Manager (TSM) to activate an NFC application over a mobile network, according to Barnaud.

While any services that are developed will make use of the NFC technology within the device, and operate via the Cityzi application, they are not controlled by Orange. Orange has commercial contracts with the service providers, but it is up to the service provider to choose how they utilise the platform.

During the demonstration in Nice, Orange showed how it was possible to purchase and validate a tram ticket using a Samsung Wave 578. It was also possible to purchase items in participating shops and restaurants by just hovering the phone over an NFC reader, although any bill over €20 requires a PIN to validate the transaction.

Sensitive data is encrypted on the SIM, which holds all the user's personal information such as bank details. Once removed, the phone has no record of this data.

Источник: Total Telecom

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