Ericsson IPX introduces next-generation NFC TSM service

The company aims to kickstart commercial NFC services by acting as a broker between mobile network operators and service providers — Ericsson IPX plans to pay operators to rent space on their SIM cards and then sub-let it to a range of service providers.

ERICSSON IPX: 'Our TSM servers are up and running' says the company

Ericsson IPX has made a decisive move into the near field communication market with the announcement of a new kind of TSM service where the company will act as a broker to bring together mobile network operators and potential NFC service providers.

The new Ericsson TSM service uses the latest GlobalPlatform specifications to enable the company to enter into agreements with mobile network operators to rent space on NFC SIMs they issue. Ericsson will then in turn sub-let the space it has rented on the SIM to a range of services providers.

To make it as easy as possible for mobile network operators to sign up for the service, Ericsson is also offering them the ability to implement NFC services without having to invest in over-the-air NFC provisioning technology. Operators will be able to use their own NFC SIM OTA servers if they wish to do so or, to reduce their upfront costs, they will also be able to choose to use facilities provided by Ericsson.

The platform is available today. “Our TSM servers are up and running,” Mattias Johansson, product manager for Ericsson IPX TSM Solutions, has told NFC World. “A set of pilots are in progress,” he added, and the company is now in talks with potential service providers and operators with the aim of bringing sufficient service providers on board to give mobile network operators an incentive to issue NFC SIMs and handsets during 2011.

The key to the success of the service will lie with the company’s ability to get commitments from service providers. Here, Ericsson believes its existing relationships with mobile network operators and potential NFC service providers will give it a major advantage. The firm’s IPX division specialises in connecting service providers with all of the mobile network operators in one or multiple countries and already works with 100 mobile network operators and 1,000 service providers in 26 countries around the world.

The company currently uses this platform to offer services such as SMS alerts for bank customers, international short codes, mobile billing for games and competitions and mobile marketing campaigns — all services where, like NFC, service providers need to be able to reach all their customers regardless of which operator’s mobile network they use.

“We have assets and strengths that could make it easier for us than others,” Johansson explains, “and we have local people talking to operators and service providers. We want to make it as easy as possible for mobile network operators to introduce NFC services. The only thing they really need to do is to allow us to integrate with them.”

“Anyone will be able to work with the APIs because they will be public,” he continued. Service providers will, however, need to have their applications approved by Ericsson and the company will also perform due diligence on the service provider as a whole on behalf of mobile network operators. The company is also a full member of GlobalPlatform and a founding member of Mifare4Mobile, Johansson explains.

Charges made to service providers, and payments made to mobile network operators, will have two parts. The first is a rental fee to cover the right to store an application for a certain length of time in an NFC SIM. The second will cover over-the-air updates such as issuing a key or topping up a prepaid travel pass.

Ericsson IPX TSM
TSM: Ericsson will rent space on operators' NFC SIMs and then sublet it to service providers (click to enlarge)

The service has been designed with the needs of mobile network operators in mind. But, Johansson says, the new platform is also capable of working with embedded secure elements issued by handset manufacturers and with both standalone NFC devices and add ons that provide NFC functionality to existing mobile phones.