28 Oct 2010
"It's very rare that one company can bring a solution to market, and that's what we realized when we talked to some of the solution providers," he said. "By offering these kinds of tools in a very open and collaborative manner, we can bring their solutions to market more quickly. And we can bring more customers and partners onto the Sprint network."
AT&T announced it would open similar "innovation centers" in Palo Alto, Calif.; Plano, Texas; and Tel Aviv, Israel, with several partners: Alcatel-Lucent, Amdocs and Ericsson. AT&T will build its labs with Cisco Systems and Juniper Networks infrastructure. In addition to collaborating on wireless M2M services, application developers will can use the labs for healthcare and HTML 5 applications, according to AT&T.
"The M2M ecosystem is fairly complicated," Weldon said. "It's not only the module manufacturers. It [also encompasses] those who describe themselves as system integrators, and it particularly [includes] the devices and software applications…. Without those partners, I don't think any of the carriers would know quite what to do."
Fostering the development of revenue-generating wireless M2M services is just one piece of the puzzle. Carriers must also streamline M2M operations and cut costs with more advanced service delivery platforms that automate many administrative tasks.
"Since the platform kind of takes care of a lot of the logistics, the ARPU opportunities for carriers are actually better than they look," Weldon said. "If you can automate provisioning, billing, activation and trouble ticketing, theoretically the ARPU looks a lot better, even if you're getting $4, $5 or $6 per [M2M] connection versus $30 to $40 per [mobile phone] connection."
All major carriers in the M2M space are developing their own service delivery platforms or using a third-party platform. They hope to develop these platforms into competitive differentiators, Weldon said.