Schlumberger is to provide Swisscom with Java SIM cards for its GSM mobile network service. The new cards dramatically boost the potential for delivering value-added services to mobile phone subscribers, making it much easier to develop applications, and intrinsically simple to upgrade software in the field. Several hundred thousand SIMs (Subscriber Identity Modules) have been ordered for delivery during 1998.
The Swiss operator will be the first in the world to roll-out Java-compatible SIMs. Java capability extends the versatility of the Phase 2+ SIM Swisscom will supply for digital mobile phones, by allowing it to operate as a miniature computer and run a spectrum of additional applications.
This pioneering move will give Swisscom – already a leading exponent of value-added services for mobiles though its over-the-air service SICAP(tm) – a highly flexible platform for introducing new functions and tailoring its service package for individual users. Thanks to the intrinsic security of smart cards the mobile phone could, for example, be used to make remote payments, to shop on the Internet, to read and send confidential messages, or access private servers and information databases – key functions that will underpin the emerging e-commerce industry. Java programming capability will also make it intrinsically simple for Swisscom to offer custom services for groups of users, or business organisations.
Swisscom has ordered Activa(tm) Cyberflex Core(tm) cards from Schlumberger. These are the first cards in the world to offer GSM Phase 2+ SIM Application Toolkit capability, and compliance with the JavaCard 2.0 API. Demonstrated in October 1997, this card technology is currently on beta-test with many of the world’s foremost telecommunications corporations, in preparation for general release in 1998. Swisscom and Schlumberger are currently working together to fine-tune existing SICAP (SIM Card Application Platform) services for use on the new Java platform, to ensure that the new product meets Swisscom’s objectives.
Many hundreds of organisations are currently developing smart card applications based on the first JavaCard implementation, Cyberflex(tm) from Schlumberger, but this is the first project to reach the stage of high volume orders in preparation for mass roll-out.
Almost every GSM/PCN operator is evaluating, or beginning to use, the autonomous capability of the latest Phase 2+ SIM smart card platforms to offer new applications such as remote banking. The Java compatibility built into Schlumberger’s Activa Cyberflex Core accelerates this trend by providing a completely open and developer-friendly environment for this work. Thanks to the interpreted nature of the Java language, applications can now be written and trialled in a matter of days, eliminating the mask creation cycle required for conventional smart card projects. The technology effectively transforms smart cards into conventional computers, allowing them to run any Java Card-compliant application, and adapt to meet the individual needs of users.
“The ease of programming SIMs using Java will allow us to improve the capabilities of mobile terminals while at the same time simplifying life for users through interactive activation sequences” notes Rudolf Ritter, Head of New Business Development of Swisscom. “Thanks to the support of our long-time supplier of SIMs, Schlumberger, this product extends the over-the-air capability we established with SICAP, giving us a flexible tool to support the productivity of our customers.”
“This order marks a giant leap forward for the smart card industry” notes Torsten Uhe, Sales Manager for Schlumberger’s operations in Germany and Switzerland. “The Java language, coupled with the flexible standard that governs SIMs, is giving network operators a platform for ‘mass customisation’ of communications services, and Swisscom’s pioneering project will influence the entire telecommunications world.”
Information on JavaCards and Activa can be found at[ www.cyberflex.austin.et.slb.com/] and [www.slb.com/et/sc_offer/activa.html]