Decision On Nano-SIM Format Delayed

Max 'Beast from the East' Smolaks covers open source, public sector, startups and technology of the future at TechWeekEurope. If you find him looking lost on the streets of London, feed him coffee and sugar.

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The battle between Apple and its competitors is getting more intense

The decision on the new nano-SIM format has been postponed by the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) following a split into two camps, supporting designs by Nokia and Apple respectively.

According to the reports by French media, due to internal disagreements ETSI has missed the deadline for the vote, which will now be delayed for at least 30 days.

It was previously thought the regulating authority would vote on the future standard this week, on either Wednesday or Thursday.

SIMply the best

Apple’s proposed design is similar to the current generation micro-SIM, but with all plastic removed, whereas Nokia has thrown the rule book out of the window and come up with something which looks more like a memory card than a SIM. Nokia’s solution is smaller, and it fits ETSI guidelines better, but is not backwards compatible.

Faced with a difficult choice, ETSI failed to reach an agreement and therefore did not vote.

A Nokia source told the BBC that Apple’s offer of allowing royalty-free use of its SIM-related patents was “like offering a bicycle in order to borrow our Mercedes”. Nokia has also threatened to withhold more than 50 crucial patents if Apple’s proposal is voted through.

“We are not prepared to get into a position where our technology is used to implement a standard that is technologically inferior, and doesn’t meet ETSI’s own requirements,” Mark Durrant, Nokia’s director of communications, told the BBC.

And yet Nokia is also facing a similar threat. Indeed, its format, which looks like a microSD card, may require the use of patents filed by the manufacturer SanDisk, and owned by a consortium of manufacturers of flash memory including SanDisk, Toshiba and Panasonic. The consortium has already warned it would not grant licenses on its patents in order to keep its format and its technologies.

RIM chimes in on Apple’s trim SIM

Meanwhile, RIM has sent a letter to the standards group complaining about Apple’s strategy in the battle over the upcoming nano-SIM standard. It echoes previous concerns expressed by Nokia about Apple’s aggressive tactics in an attempt to secure the majority of votes.

“Over the last few days we have observed a number of representatives from one company changing their affiliation overnight and registering to the meeting not representing their employer or any of their affiliates but representing a completely different company,” reads the RIM letter.

It goes on to describe how three Apple UK employees have registered to represent Bell Mobility, KT Corp and SK Telekom. The letter concludes by saying that if its objections aren’t considered, RIM is more than happy to make “additional legal arguments with competent bodies of law”. In other words, RIM might drag Apple to court.

It looks like ETSI members are in for the long haul.

Here’s what has been fuelling the controversy surrounding the nano-SIM situation so far:

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