In a ground-breaking move Orange has announced that it would be introducing NFC services next year in the majority of countries in which it has a presence. The company said that it would begin issuing NFC SIMs to subscribers starting in the second quarter of next year.
"Orange is the first European operator to make such a clear commitment to the development of mobile contactless services," said the operator. "By introducing the necessary technology on such a wide scale, Orange will enable a maximum number of its customers to benefit quickly and easily as new services are deployed in each country."
The first country to benefit from this move would appear to be France where Orange will start to distribute the Samsung Player One Cityzi NFC phone--currently only available in Nice, France--through its entire network of retail stores.
Orange added that other models of NFC-enabled handsets were expected to become available during the spring of 2011, and confirmed that it aimed to sell 500,000 NFC-equipped phones in France during 2011.
Stephane Richard, CEO of France Telecom Orange, commented that the move into contactless services would benefit its customers with a convenient and secure way to validate transport tickets or make payments. "To make it a reality for our customers, Orange is working with other operators, banks, retailers, plus transport and service providers, to create an eco-system which will stimulate the development of services adapted to everyone's needs."
Orange would seem to have beaten other French operators to the punch with this announcement having worked with Bouygues Telecom and SFR on the Cityzi NFC commercial pilot that has been running since May 2010 in Nice, France. The trial attracted close to 3,000 users, and was managed in partnership with the Association Française du Sans Contact Mobile.
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