The leading Hong Kong mobile network operator SUNDAY, is to upgrade its 250,000+ subscribers’ phones to user-programmable multi-service terminals, using Simera 32 Java-compatible SIMs (subscriber identity modules) and an Aremis application management server from Schlumberger. The system — the first in Asia to allow subscribers to download services over-the-air — effectively establishes a new business model for mobile operators and is expected to have a substantial impact in the highly competitive Hong Kong market. SUNDAY’s new service will roll out from Q3 1999.
SUNDAY has pioneered Phase 2+ SIM Toolkit applications in Asia, and has built a unique brand of mobile communications which emphasises the phone as a lifestyle tool. The new service range takes the company’s lifestyle concept to a new level of flexibility by providing state-of-the-art Simera 32 SIM cards with 32kbytes memory — enough for typically five to eight value-added services — combined with a management system that allows users to personalise the phones to their needs by loading and deleting services over-the-air. The service range, which is being developed for SUNDAY by Schlumberger, will include mobile commerce, mobile banking, information on demand and entertainment.
“The SIM toolkit is driving mobile operators to find and develop the ‘killer’ application”, says SUNDAY’s group director of network operations, Dr Henry Wong, “but in fact the real killer application is the ability to personalise the mobile terminal. Memory-rich Simera SIMs and the Aremis server from Schlumberger provides the flexibility to create that personalisation environment today, allowing us to take a major step towards the realisation of 3G-style mobile terminals”.
The new mobile data services concept will provide users with a menu-driven interface to a library of applets, with description of functions and file sizes, and a dynamic view of what the user currently has loaded and what free space is left. The user can select applets for download into free memory, deleting existing ones as required. Once a user has registered, this service will operate over-the-air via SMS (short message service) data transfer, and also by calling into one of SUNDAY’s shops and inserting the SIM card into a PC.
Schlumberger has been SUNDAY’s preferred supplier of SIMs for several years, because of the smart card supplier’s track record of innovation. “Success in the mobile business demands rapid time to market, and Schlumberger provides us with a technology edge in SIMs that has allowed us to pioneer SIM Toolkit-based data communications services in the Asia-Pacific region”, adds Dr Henry Wong. “The company’s Asian-based development resources have been of particular help in rapidly prototyping and evaluating new service ideas, in this case allowing us to conceive and structure this new mobile service concept in just three months”.
The easy programming associated with the Java cards will play a key role in SUNDAY’s service concept, allowing it to rapidly expand its portfolio of applications. At the moment, the applets are being developed by a Schlumberger team located at the company’s Asia Technical Centre in Hong Kong. However, Schlumberger is training a team of programmers from SUNDAY in SIM Toolkit and the Java Card APIs, so that they can continue expanding the service range.
“The mobile phone is not a limited tool anymore”, says Jean-Claude Deturche, Smart Cards Marketing Director for Schlumberger Test & Transactions Asia. “To date, the relatively limited memory space on SIM cards has restricted the number of value-added services that users can deploy. SUNDAY’s concept sweeps that away, allowing mobile users to download applets as and when they need them – such as e-ticketing for example. Schlumberger has been promoting the one-to-one marketing concept of Java SIMs aggressively and this is the first practical implementation of that technology in Asia. We believe it will have an enormous influence on the mobile network business”.
Launched in September 1998, the Unix-based Aremis administration system for mobile network services has brought a new degree of flexibility to mobile operators through its dedicated software modules for SIM card subscriber and application management.
Options include the OTA Service Manager for over-the-air service activation and delivery; STK Service Manager which supports SIM Toolkit deployment and execution management; Card Applet Manager which enables operators to register, download, erase and configure Java-based applets on a subscriber’s SIM card; and the Content Server Gateway which can interface applets with their respective content servers, and provide billing functions.
In addition to this range of functions, which provides the catalyst for operators to provide new services such as mobile banking and commerce, games, and location-specific information, the software features what is believed to be a unique capability with its CORBA-compliant ‘object request broker’ architecture. This makes it both easy to interface to existing IT systems, and highly scaleable to cope with expansion of the subscriber base.
For further information please access:
[www.slb.com/smartcards] and [www.sunday.com]
3G – or the third generation of wireless communications – promises to create a portable terminal which can perform a wide range of functions from voice communications to data services such as e-mail and e commerce. Although this advance will rely on the provision of multi-media technologies and much higher data communications rates than current mobile phones, ‘multi application’ capability is at the heart of the concept, and Sunday’s new Java SIM and phone combination starts to create that kind of product, providing a stepping stone to the next generation.
CORBA stands for Common Object Request Broker Architecture, which is a standard designed to support the distribution of objects implemented in a variety of programming languages. This is made possible by making an interface definition language that can be mapped to a number of existing languages. Further information is available from: [http://vaxa.clarion. edu/~students/s_cabower/corba.html]
Schlumberger is the leading provider of smart card-based solutions worldwide. Drawing on 20 years experience in pioneering smart card innovations, Schlumberger is continuing to evolve the new generation of smart cards, parking terminals, ticketing machines, payphones, banking terminals, servers, software, applications and systems integration that will play a key role in the 21st century’s digital age. Additional information is available at .
In Asia, Schlumberger Test & Transactions has set up the Hong Kong Cards Industrial Centre (HKCIC), a world class smart card manufacturing facility, and the Asia Technical Centre, a smart card application development centre in Hong Kong. Recently, it has also invested in the building of the Korea Technology Centre which will focus on design and manufacture of test systems for semiconductor devices. Schlumberger Test & Transactions employs some 1,400 people in over 30 operations spanning 10 Asian countries.
Schlumberger Test & Transactions provides smart card-based solutions and semiconductor test systems and services to customers across the globe. It is a business unit of Schlumberger Limited, a $11.8 billion global technology services company.