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GSMA Plans Embedded SIM Cards

Wireless association aims for 2012 deployment for machine-to-machine apps and services like near field communication.
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The venerable SIM card used in most of the world’s mobile phones will get renewed life as an embedded SIM card that can be remotely activated, according to the GSMA wireless phone trade association. The GSMA envisions SIM cards being designed into a series of new form factors for a generation of mobile communications that will likely speed the nascent machine-to-machine (M2M) market. On Thursday, the GSMA announced the formation of a task force to explore the phenomenon.

“The traditional SIM has been an important innovation in mobile telephony and has provided many benefits to consumers in terms of security, portability of contacts, and ease of portability of devices across networks,” Rob Conway, GSMA CEO and board member, said in a statement. “As our industry moves from connecting phones to connecting a wide range of devices, it is apparent that the embedded SIM could deliver even greater flexibility.”

The M2M market has been picking up steam in recent months and is expected to grow more rapidly as remote sensor prices drop to the five-cents-a-device range and as nanotechnology helps to create automatic controls for gathering data from billions of wireless spots. Conway added that embedded SIM cards also can be a boon for enabling new services, such as e-Wallet and near field communication (NFC) applications.

The task force is on a tight timetable and is expected to complete its analysis by January. The GSMA plans to recommend a technical solution built around openness and standardization with devices featuring the new SIM embedded approach expected to appear in 2012. The task force includes experts from leading operators and carriers, including AT&T, Verizon Wireless, Deutsche Telekom, China Mobile, France Telecom Orange, KT, NTT Docomo, SK Telecom, Telefonica and Vodafone.

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