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Near Field Communication (NFC)

Near Field Communication (NFC) is a short-range wireless connectivity technology (also known as ISO 18092) that is built upon Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology. Examples of contactless smart card communications are ISO/IEC 14443 and FeliCa, which allow communications at distances up to 4 cm. NFC operates at 13.56 MHz and transfers data at up to 424 Kbits/second. NFC readers will be able to interrogate tags based on the ISO 15693 standard, provided that the tags employ the NFC Data Exchange Format (NDEF), which sets a common data-exchange format for NFC Forum-compliant devices and tags.

NFC has three modes:

  • Read and write tags (open mode):
    An NFC enabled device can read an NFC tag that is embedded within physical material. For example; the device can read a sticker, with an NFC tag embedded, in order to download an application. An NFC enabled device can also write to an NFC tag.
  • Tap to connect and share (open mode):
    When two NFC enabled devices are brought within four centimeters of one another, a handshake is performed between two devices to establish a connection. Once a connection is established, data can be transferred without the need for manual configuration.
  • Emulate card (secured mode):
    An NFC enabled device can be used for retail payments by using a mobile wallet app or for accessing a secured building.

NFC will make tapping a new consumer practice. The simplicity of the tapping and the high volume deployment of the NFC devices will give the consumer the possibility to interact with both the real world and the virtual world. NFC enabled devices will be used in a wide array of business applications. ABI Research expects 285 Million NFC-enabled devices to be shipped in 2013 and believe the NFC will come out of its "trial phase". The increase in potential use base is making the investment in NFC applications more justifiable. (ABI, 2012)

In order to be ready for the wave of opportunity that NFC will bring with it, it is important that developers understand the use cases and are familiar with the current APIs using NFC technology. Android, Blackberry and Window Phone 8 all support NFC.

To purchase services from AT&T that offer NFC technology, visit AT&T NFC Services. Also see: Mobile Commerce Solutions and Secure NFC Credentials.