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Startup Sees Femtocells as a Bridge to NFC-enabled Phones

Raging Mobile is developing in-store kiosks that give consumers the option of having their cell phones receive discounts via femtocell technology if their handsets do not support NFC RFID.
By Claire Swedberg
Jun 22, 2012Raging Mobile, a San Mateo, Calif., technology start-up launched by venture-capital company North Bridge Venture Partners, is developing kiosks intended to help pave the way for the adoption of Near Field Communication (NFC)-enabled mobile phones, by offering consumers the option of receiving discounts via femtocell technology, in the event that their phones do not support NFC RFID technology.

Two 7-Eleven convenience stores located on Long Island, N.Y., are currently testing early prototypes of the kiosk lacking femtocell functionality. The prototypes support only NFC RFID technology—either NFC-enabled phones, or NFC RFID tags attached to phones—while long-term plans, according to Raging Mobile, are to test kiosks that also employ femtocell mobile-phone technology as an alternative to NFC.

A 7-Eleven store on Long Island, N.Y., is testing an early prototype of Raging Mobile's kiosk, installed at its checkout counter.

The femtocell and NFC solution is intended to solve a "chicken-and-egg" problem regarding the deployment of NFC-enabled phones and commercial NFC-based services, says Basil Horangic, a partner at North Bridge Venture Partners and founder of Raging Mobile. Most mobile-phone manufacturers are awaiting the adoption of NFC-based services before producing NFC-enabled phones, while NFC-based services (such as store loyalty programs) are not yet being adopted since there are presently few phones equipped with the NFC technology required to use them.

With the Raging Mobile kiosk, however, consumers can become accustomed to using their mobile phones to access personalized service or coupons at a store, with or without NFC technology, until such a time that the anticipated proliferation of NFC reader chips in handsets occurs.

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