LONDON – Qualcomm Inc. has no immediate plans to bring near field communications (NFC) into its semiconductor offering for makers of mobile handsets. Even though Qualcomm has engineers working on NFC it is not offering its own silicon and steers handset makers to work with third-party suppliers of NFC chipsets.
NFC is based on the RF-energized tag technology known as RFID operating at 13.56-MHz.It has been touted as a means of making electronic micro-payments and is already used for some ticketing and public transport applications.
Deployment of NFC within mobile phones has long-promised to turn them into electronic wallets although a lack of consensus between banks and mobile phone service operators has stymied such moves. Rumors are surfacing that Apple is pushing to deploy the technology in the next iteration of its iPhone and in recent weeks Broadcom announced the acquisition of NFC pioneer Innovision Research & Technology plc (Cirencester, England) for $47.5 million in cash.
Ben Timmons, senior director responsible for business development at 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 an third-party vendor. "We do have NFC engineers but they are predominantly working on software," he said.
Qualcomm Ventures made an investment of 4 million euros (about $5.1 million) in February 2009 in Inside Contactless SA (Aix-en-Provence, France) when 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.
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