Global M2M Partnerships Heat Up, but Will They Succeed?

K. Weldon
K. Weldon

Summary Bullets:

  • For years, operators have been trying to crack the code on how to offer cost-effective global M2M services that can span multiple network footprints.
  • Two alliances – one from Jasper Wireless-enabled operators and one from standards bodies across the world – point to new models that may accelerate the growth of global M2M.

Over the last couple of weeks, there have been some unusual partnership announcements from the M2M ecosystem that may solve a set of problems which have thwarted the widespread growth of global M2M deals.  Last week, KPN, NTT DoCoMo, Rogers Communications, SingTel, Telefónica, Telstra, and Vimpelcom agreed to form an alliance to support a single, global platform that multinational businesses will leverage to enable connected devices to span multiple countries cost-effectively with a uniform SIM.  Since these operators all use the Jasper Wireless service delivery platform (as does AT&T, which was not part of the partnership), they can also service customers consistently; the Jasper platform provides a uniform portal for service activation, SIM management, troubleshooting, and subscription/rate management.  While a number of operators such as Orange, Vodafone, and AT&T have already developed global SIMs that can be used in multiple countries to simplify inventory management and related expenses, there has still been a lot of work to do to make global M2M seamless and cost-effective.  Some operators have also been working together to offer global connectivity at prices below the traditional expensive commercial roaming rates, but in many cases, enterprises have either had to set up relationships with multiple carriers or gone to aggregators to try to bridge together a global network with a single point of contact and single contract.

Meanwhile, on July 17th, it was announced that ICT industry standards bodies in different regions that have been working on the M2M service layer for several years (seemingly without much coordination), including TIA, ATIS, ARIB, CCSA, ETSI, TTA, and TTC, will meet July 24 in Bellevue, Washington, to announce more details about combining forces.  The seven standards bodies announced in January have plans for the joint development of end-to-end specifications for M2M solutions.  The lack of common standards and protocols has resulted in machines of one type or within a given industry being unable to communicate with those in other industries, creating inefficient communication silos that require a lot of work and expense to bridge.

While these alliances are not guaranteed to reduce the fragmentation that has held back M2M growth, they point to the fact that the industry has recognized that it needs to do something more radical if we are ever to get to the projected billions and billions of connections of devices, machines, and ‘things’ over the next five to ten years.  Without these partnerships, significant revenues for the operators, device manufacturers, platform developers, and application providers that make up the ecosystem may never be realized.

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