The world's largest mobile phone network operators today revealed an effort to expand the GSM wireless communications technology to navigation devices, cameras, handheld gaming systems, music players, and more starting in 2012.
The GSM Association, the consortium overseeing the widely used mobile phone network technology, said a task force of members including AT&T, Verizon, Vodafone, China Mobile, and Deutsche Telekom has begun working on adapting SIM cards so they can be embedded in many more devices than phones. SIM cards are small, removable chips that provide phones an identity on GSM wireless networks, but the embedded SIM will be more an intrinsic part of devices and will be able to be activated remotely, the GSMA said.
GSM technology began its life as a technology for phone calls, but with today's 3G and just-arriving LTE incarnations, it's used for data transfer as well. The embedded SIM effort signals a further growth of the GSM lineage beyond just voice needs.
So far, SIM cards haven't made it far beyond mobile phones, though some tablets such as the iPad and Samsung Galaxy Tab and some laptops include them. But it's easy to see why mobile phone network operators would be interested: mobile connectivity is ever more important, Wi-Fi networks are an incomplete patchwork, WiMax at least thus far hasn't lived up to its promise of bathing large areas with network access, and there's abundant subscription money to be made in connecting new devices to the Net.
"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," GSMA Chief Executive Rob Conway said in a statement.
One trick will be to get new devices onto wireless networks without overtaxing the networks even more.… Read more