A SIM chip is about the size of a small postage stamp and is often used in GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications) mobile phones to authenticate the user on a mobile network. Last June, Nokia began offering special WLAN cards that came with a slot for a SIM chip.
The alliance will also support the RADIUS type of authentication, Mard said.
The WLAN alliance between IBM and Nokia will support "many kinds" of business models and rather than competing with the 3G (third generation) technology that the wireless operations have been spending enormous amounts of money on developing, the WLAN services can be offered as a complimenting technology, Mard said.
"Wireless LAN is different from 3G because it serves the public hot-spots and is directed more specifically to the corporate user. But there are other instances of combining WLAN support with 3G and GPRS (General Packet Radio Service) support, in PC cards for example," Mard said.
One major hurdle in the European WLAN market is that it is still illegal in some countries such as the U.K. and France to operate public networks using the technology IBM and Nokia are pushing. "Yes, maybe in some markets that is true, but there are other markets in Europe that are open now. We see the market as a growing one; it is new and emerging," Mard said.
IBM's Morris expressed confidence that policy changes may be on the not-too-distant horizon in the U.K. and France.
"These things are being addressed at the highest levels of government. In the U.K., there is already a movement to address the public network for wireless LAN networks. And hot-spots are already beginning to appear in airports throughout Europe in places like Helsinki and Amsterdam. We hope it will be resolved as soon as possible, but we are confident that it will be resolved. I think governments realize the potential of this market," said Morris.