Light Reading

Broadcom Thinks NFC's Time Is Nearing

Craig Matsumoto
LR Mobile News Analysis
Craig Matsumoto
12/11/2012
50%
50%

SAN FRANCISCO -- Broadcom Corp. (Nasdaq: BRCM) believes in near-field communications (NFC) and thinks the newly integrated chip it announced Tuesday could help kick the technology into mainstream usage.

The reason has little to do with alleged awesomeness of Broadcom, and more to do with the idea of ubiquity. Even without having NFC on the iPhone.

NFC radio chips can be used in phones, vending machines and cash registers to allow users to tap-to-pay for goods and services. It can also let phones swap information with a touch, as on that one Samsung Corp. Galaxy III commercial shown ad nauseum during the World Series. But the technology has been slow to catch on with most consumers. (See NFC Payments Forecast Scaled Down.)

The turning point could come when NFC arrives in a wide variety of devices including tablets and TVs, Broadcom officials think. Having it in more places -- being able to use the technology with more devices -- will make NFC more useful and more interesting. Gradually, it will make NFC as essential to consumers as Wi-Fi is now, Broadcom argues.

Broadcom officials explained all this during an informal press session Tuesday, where officials discussed the technologies they'll be showcasing at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in January.

What makes Broadcom so confident about NFC is its experience with carrier Wi-Fi.

Smartphone OEMs liked the idea of Wi-Fi, but they didn't want to include another chip and another antenna inside their phones. A turning point came when Broadcom released one chip for both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, making the two 2.4GHz technologies share an antenna.

"They were worried about the antennas," says Michael Hurlston, Broadcom's senior vice president of home and wireless networking. "Antennas take up so much space on the phones."

In that case, the resulting chip happened to be as cheap as a standalone Bluetooth chip, so OEMs were almost literally getting Wi-Fi for free. In particular, the iPhone picked up Wi-Fi. And as the technology spread into more hands, the use cases for it widened.

Eventually, carriers that had viewed Wi-Fi as a thief of precious cellular minutes began to see it as a tool to be exploited. "Now we've got the reverse happening, where carriers want us to make it so your phone can switch to Wi-Fi when you get home," Hurlston says. The BCM43341 chip introduced Tuesday combines Bluetooth, an FM radio, Wi-Fi and NFC into one monolithic package (meaning it's fabricated as a single chip, not two or more chips glued together). That's a lot on one chip, but OEMs are already using the first three technologies and badly want NFC, Broadcom officials claimed.

Part of the excitement around NFC comes from the technology's mindlessness. Mohamed Awad, a Broadcom associate product line manager, tapped a smartphone playing a video against a tablet screen, causing the screen to play the video as well. The phone was using Wi-Fi to transmit the video -- a technology called Miracast that will also be in Broadcom's CES portfolio -- but the session was initiated with an NFC tap, without having to tell either device what to do or select where to send the video.

It's that ability to turn multistep processes into no-brainers that has OEMs craving NFC, says Awad. They see in it the potential to change applications in the way that touch screens did.

"You need to think about it as a helper technology, helping the user get the advantage of these other technologies," he says.

For more



— Craig Matsumoto, Managing Editor, Light Reading

(0)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View        ADD A COMMENT
Educational Resources
sponsor supplied content
Educational Resources Archive
Flash Poll
From The Founder
Network architects aiming to upgrade their networks to support agile, open, virtualized services in the 21st century need to consider new criteria when choosing between technology suppliers.
Live Streaming Video
CLOUD / MANAGED SERVICES: Prepping Ethernet for the Cloud
Moderator: Ray LeMaistre Panelists: Jeremy Bye, Leonard Sheahan
Wagner’s Ring
Business Value Trumps Moving Bits for Virtual Networks

7|7|15   |   01:22   |   (0) comments


At the recent Open Networking Summit, carriers described how they're focused on increasing revenue rather than just improving technology. This requires cultural changes, which can be more difficult than technology changes.
LRTV Custom TV
VeEX: Live from the Big Telecom Event 2015

7|7|15   |   2:28   |   (0) comments


VeEX's Carl Goldschmidt provides new product updates, including the RXT modular test platform and TX300s. With the latest technology in pluggable physical interfaces, the RXT platform combines multiple technologies with testing range from 10 Mbit/s to 100 Gbit/s. The TX300s is an "All-in-one" advanced multi-service test platform from 64 Kbit/s to 100 Gbit/s that ...
LRTV Custom TV
Light Reading Interviews MRV: 2015 Big Telecom Event

7|7|15   |   3:45   |   (0) comments


Scott St. John, SVP of Global Sales & Service, discusses MRV's customer-centric culture, the new OptiPacket OP-X1 100G access platform, and recent customer wins with Light Reading at BTE 2015.
LRTV Custom TV
Procera: Enhancing the Subscriber Experience

7|7|15   |   4:53   |   (0) comments


Hear from Procera on the latest in Subscriber Experience solutions. Learn how Procera's RAN Perspective technology helps network operators monitor and manage network traffic, in real-time, solving congestion and other network issues.
Between the CEOs
HP's Prodip Sen: The NFV Journey

7|7|15   |   21:39   |   (1) comment


Prodip Sen, CTO of the Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) business unit at HP, talks to Light Reading founder and CEO Steve Saunders about the four stages of the NFV journey.
LRTV Documentaries
Leading Lights 2015 Winners' Video

7|7|15   |   08:34   |   (2) comments


Hear what the Leading Lights 2015 winners had to say after they picked up their awards in Chicago.
LRTV Documentaries
PSA: The Perils of a Hyper-Connected Society

7|6|15   |   1:38   |   (0) comments


A public service announcement calling attention to the perils of a hyper-connected society.
LRTV Interviews
Guavus Takes Analytics on the Road

7|6|15   |   4:09   |   (4) comments


Guavus CEO Anukool Lakhina tells Light Reading CEO and founder Steve Saunders how the analytics tools developed for telcos are applicable to the transportation industry.
Telecom Innovators Video Showcase
Mellanox's New 25/50/100Gb/s Ethernet Products

7|6|15   |   2:44   |   (0) comments


Mellanox offers a complete 10/25/40/50/56/100Gbit/s solution that delivers industry-leading performance, scalability, reliability and efficiency for optimal application performance and data center ROI.
Telecom Innovators Video Showcase
Arista's CloudVision

7|6|15   |   6:01   |   (0) comments


Anshul Sadana answers questions from Steve Saunders, Light Reading’s founder and CEO, about Arista’s CloudVision, a global cloud network controller for workload orchestration and workflow automation delivering a turnkey solution for cloud networking.
LRTV Custom TV
Red Hat Demo

7|2|15   |   10:53   |   (0) comments


Red Hat's Nicolas Lemieux demonstrates how Red Hat is driving innovation through open source communities.
LRTV Custom TV
Red Hat's Approach to OpenStack Adoption

7|2|15   |   5:17   |   (0) comments


Red Hat's Radhesh Balakrishnan outlines his company's open source strategy for both enterprises and telcos.
Upcoming Live Events
September 16-17, 2015, The Westin Galleria Dallas, Dallas, TX
September 16, 2015, The Westin Galleria Dallas, Dallas, TX
September 29-30, 2015, The Westin Grand Müchen, Munich, Germany
October 6, 2015, The Westin Peachtree Plaza, Atlanta, GA
October 6, 2015, Westin Peachtree Plaza, Atlanta, GA
October 14-15, 2015, New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, New Orleans, LA
November 5, 2015, Hilton Santa Clara, Santa Clara, CA
All Upcoming Live Events
Infographics
Equinix walks through the past four digital economy eras from computing to network to connected to today's interconneted world.
Hot Topics
What's a Gigabit Good For?
Carol Wilson, Editor-at-large, 7/1/2015
IBM Sows Seed for New Telco Unit, Plans NFV/SDN Push
Ray Le Maistre, Editor-in-chief, 7/6/2015
What the Helio? MVNO Is Back After First Flop
Sarah Thomas, Editorial Operations Director, 7/6/2015
FCC Chairman Talks Up SDN/NFV
Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, 7/2/2015
A&E Launches Lifetime OTT Service
Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, 7/3/2015
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
Webinar Archive
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
Prodip Sen, CTO of the Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) business unit at HP, talks to Light Reading founder and CEO Steve Saunders about the four stages of the NFV journey.
Casa Systems has been going from strength to strength over the last couple of years. In 2013, it became the first vendor to ship an integrated CCAP device -- the ...
Cats with Phones