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Qualcomm rules out NFC for now

Posted: 16 Sep 2010     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:NFC  semiconductor  mobile handsets 

An acquisition in 2009 looked like Qualcomm Inc's way into NFC, but the company says that its NFC engineers are mostly working on software and handset makers need to work with other third-party suppliers of NFC chipsets.

Based on the RF-energized tag technology known as RFID operating at 13.56MHz, NFC is seen as a way to make electronic micro-payments such as ticketing and public transport applications.

However, a lack of consensus between banks and mobile phone service operators has stymied the deployment of NFC within mobile phones which would turn them into electronic wallets. Now, rumours are coming out that Apple Inc. will deploy the technology in the next iteration of its iPhone. Broadcom's acquisition of NFC pioneer Innovision Research & Technology plc for Rs.221.81 crore ($47.5 million) in cash is also a move forward for the technology.

Ben Timmons, senior director for business development, Qualcomm Europe, said that whereas GPS, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi are covered by Qualcomm chips for now companies that want to include NFC must work with a third-party vendor. "We do have NFC engineers but they are predominantly working on software," he said.

Qualcomm Ventures made an investment of about Rs.23.81 crore ($5.1 million) in February 2009 in French company Inside Contactless SA, and it was announced that Qualcomm would work with Inside Contactless on two 3G handset reference designs—one each for UMTS and CDMA2000 networks—that combine Qualcomm's Mobile Station Modem chipsets with Inside's MicroRead multi-standard NFC chip. Other investors in Inside Contactless include Nokia and Motorola.

- Peter Clarke
EE Times

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