The GSMA published a statement saying that a number of international mobile phone operators including T-Mobile (Deutsche Telekom), Vodafone and Orange (France Telecom) are working towards launching NFC services in “select markets” from next year.
This will give the necessary impetus for Apple to launch an iPhone 5 equipped with near field communication technology, a feature that doesn’t cost much to implement but will mean that potentially millions of iPhone 5 users will be able to use NFC when the services are rolled out.
The GSMA did not specify which territories would see NFC first although we can assume that Europe and the US would be prime candidates.
When we spoke to Gemalto, one of the leaders in this field, at Mobile World Congress, it was clear that the obstacles to a much wider adoption of NFC was down to the operators themselves rather than the technology.
The announcement by GSMA means that the networks are now not only talking and working together but, more crucially, have committed themselves to a time schedule.
There are already handsets with NFC inside (like the Nokia 8) but none of them would be as game changing as the iPhone 5 and adding NFC capabilities to any phone during manufacturing process only raises the bill of material by a few dollars at most.