Remote-controlled SIMs could expand the mobile market

The technology will open the door for using mobile broadband cameras, navigation devices, e-Readers and smart meters

A task force led by the GSM Association will take a look at how SIM (Subscriber Identity Module) cards embedded in non-phone devices can be remotely programmed and activated, in an effort to expand the use of mobile broadband , the organization said on Thursday.

The development of this new generation SIM cards should make it easier to bring mobile broadband to products beyond phones and laptops, including cameras, media players, navigation devices, e-Readers and smart meters, according to the GSMA. Also, it could be used to turn on services such as mobile wallets and other NFC (Near Field Communication) applications, it said in a statement.

"It is a really interesting initiative because it is tailored to address machine-to-machine communications, which is the next huge opportunity in mobile broadband," said Ben Wood, director of research at CCS Insight.

However, remotely programming SIM cards is a contentious area due to the security implications, according to Wood.

In addition to major SIM producers, operators AT&T, China Mobile, Deutsche Telekom, France Telecom Orange, Korea Telecom, NTT DOCOMO, SK Telecom, Telecom Italia, Telefónica, Verizon Wireless and Vodafone are all involved in the task force, the GSMA said.

The group is expected to complete an analysis of market requirements by January 2011, and the first devices featuring the new activation capability are expected to appear in 2012, according to GSMA.

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