LTE, an Open U.S. Mobile Telecommunications Industry and Beyond

Today, mobile devices in the U.S. are often tied to mobile operators exclusively or for a defined period of time. In the future this might change and consumers might be able to pick their mobile operator and then buy and use any phone they want.  In Asia and Europe, the mobile telecommunications industry has always been open like this.  Long Term Evolution (LTE) and its use of the UICC might help move the needle towards a more open U.S. mobile telecommunications industry.

With LTE comes UICC, the microprocessor smart card that will be used in all devices.  The UICC is a multi application hardware platform that can run multiple smart card applications, including telecom applications (SIM, USIM, ISIM, EAP-SIM, etc) and non-telecom applications (contactless payment applications such as MasterCard Paypass, Visa Paywave, but also transit applications, etc.).

LTE and the UICC could provide an evolution from phone exclusivity in the United States, should the players wish it so.  Operators can put all of their branded services and applications, roaming, browsers, tracking, right on the UICC instead of in the handset. Because the UICC works with any 3G (or soon 4G) handset, the consumer is then free to buy the handset of his/her choice, put in the operator-issued UICC, and be ready to go.  No more broken contract fees, or “woe-is-me-I-can’t-get-the-phone-I-want” stories.

An open industry means a consumer can choose an operator based on its quality of service, not the handsets it offers.  It’s an opportunity for operators to build brand awareness and loyalty by offering the most innovative applications and services.  It’s good for the handset manufacturers, too, because it allows them to get a wider variety of handsets made, and much more quickly.  And clearly the consumer wins because they have freedom like never before.   

To us, the ng Connect Program means coming together to provide openness, freedom and innovation to the mobile telecommunications industry, and Gemalto is extremely glad to be part of it.  4G LTE and the UICC is a critical way to bring this kind of freedom to consumers.

Jean-Louis Carrara, vice president of business development for telecommunications, Gemalto North America

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