Wednesday 19 December 2012

Low cost mobiles may soon have NFC, courtesy Broadcom

Broadcom has developed a new smartphone chip with NFC, WiFi, Bluetooth, and FM radio

Broadcom, a supplier of mobile chipsets, has announced the first mobile chipset with built-in NFC (Near-Field Communication) along with WiFi, Bluetooth and FM radio.
Earlier, smartphone makers had to buy a separate chip for NFC but with integrated NFC functionality, handset makers would be able to launch even cheaper mobile phones with NFC capability.

The company has said that the handsets with this chipset will start shipping next year.

"Until now, vendors have had to buy a separate chip for NFC and work it into their internal designs, taking up extra space in the tight quarters of a phone's circuitry. More integration also cuts power consumption," said the company.

Explaining further, Michael Hurlston, senior vice president and general manager of Broadcom's Mobile and Wireless Group, said "When we were able to do a combo device with Bluetooth and wireless LAN, it really made WiFi go to a 100 per cent attach rate in the smartphone. We think that by doing something similar with NFC, it will accelerate and further drive the adoption of NFC."

Currently, NFC is just limited to few high end smartphones like LG Optimus Vu, LG Optimus 4X HD, HTC One X, Nokia 808 PureView etc. Even iPhone 5 does not have NFC.

NFC could have a lot of usage in day to day life and the primary one is the mobile banking. However, according to Broadcom, that adoption won't depend totally on NFC mobile payments catching on. Initially, it will be driven by applications that don't need as complex an ecosystem. For example, NFC will play a key role in Miracast (which allows sharing of video across screens wirelessly), a system for transferring video among devices via WiFi, said Mohamed Awad, an associate product line director.

According to Broadcom, NFC tapping will help make Miracast catch on because it's much simpler for consumers than setting up the connection via software. Software-based setup for applications based on WiFi Direct, including Miracast, is sometimes hard because devices have different user interfaces for the process.

Broadcom also believes NFC payments will catch on, but not until after more users become comfortable with the technology through uses closer to home. Company estimates wide adoption of payments would take two to three years.

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