M2M tie-up risks more fragmentation

11 Jul 2012

It will be interesting to see how an agreement between seven leading global operators on machine-to-machine (M2M) interoperability pans out versus existing carrier agreements in the sector.

KPN, NTT DoCoMo, Rogers, SingTel, Telefonica, Telstra and Vimpelcom yesterday revealed they are teaming to develop a common approach to M2M in a bid to cut fragmentation in deployments of the technology. The telcos plan to deploy a common SIM, unified web interface, and centralized management of M2M devices, all based on a control system from equipment vendor Jasper Wireless.

Telefonica’s Digital unit is also part of the party, which is targeting industries including consumer electronics, autos, and energy.

Informa Telecoms & Media senior analyst Jamie Moss says the collaboration is a positive step. “[W]hile interoperability and collaboration as a technical possibility is important, a statement of actual intent by carriers to work together in practice is far more so.”

However, the gang of seven’s announcement isn’t the first carrier collaboration on M2M. Moss points out Vodafone and Verizon are also working together on the technology, as are Deutsche Telekom, France Telecom TeliaSonera, EverythingEverywhere and Sprint.

There is little doubt the M2M market will be big enough to accommodate all these high-profile carrier collaborations. Analysys Mason predicts M2M revenues will grow from $5.7 billion in 2011 to $50.9 billion in 2021, however there is a question mark over how unified the market can be if everyone pulls in a different direction while attempting to cut fragmentation.

The flip side to that argument, though, is that competition in the platforms available can only be a good thing. It will drive innovation and give customers viable choices based on geography rather than individual carriers.

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