Seven Global Operators Form M2M Alliance

Seven mobile operators, KPN, NTT Docomo, Rogers Communications, SingTel, Telefónica (through its Telefónica Digital unit), Telstra and Vimpelcom have entered into a memorandum of understanding to form an alliance to support a single, global M2M (machine-to-machine) platform that multinational businesses will be able to leverage to enable connected devices in multiple countries. All seven currently use Jasper Wirelesss M2M connectivity platform, which will form a key part of their offering.

The companies say the alliance’s goal is to create efficiencies for manufacturers and enhance the end user experience by enabling delivery of a global product with a single SIM, eliminating roaming costs in the countries of participating operators. The centralized management of SIM status and performance of M2M devices across the globe will be managed from a single web interface by Jasper Wireless Control Center.

The alliance’s objectives are to develop and grow M2M business globally, simplify development of new business models, speed delivery of new product and services to market, and help multinational business customers better manage and reduce operational costs.

The companies say they expect the initiative to increase the ability of all participating operators to significantly enhance the M2M value proposition for their respective customers in markets around the world.

The analyst community has been quick to react to the announcement. At Informa Telecoms & Media, senior analyst Jamie Moss says that a statement of actual intent by carriers to work together in practice is far more important than the concepts of interoperability and collaboration as a technical possibility.
“It underscores the two most critical features of the M2M market – the need to establish partnership and the need to focus on one’s own core competency for the common benefit of all involved,” says Moss.

At Frost & Sullivan, Yiru Zhong, senior analyst in the firm’s ICT practice, says she is only “cautiously optimistic” about the alliance. “It sounds like yet another partnership to defragment the ecosystem,” she says. “However, overcoming roaming challenges are an immediate plus for M2M telcos focusing on M2M connectivity revenue. Yet, without AT&T’s participation in the alliance, which is also a Jasper Wireless customer, the alliance leaves out roaming possibilities in the United States.”

Zhong adds that the motivation behind the alliance is “intriguing” and says that it puts pressure on the other M2M connectivity platform in the market, noting that Ericsson’s progress with telcos since it acquired Telenor Connexxion’s connectivity platform has been relatively slow. 

The alliance announced today is the latest in a string of high-profile M2M carrier collaborations, including the strategic alliance between Vodafone and Verizon; the M2M Service Alliance between Deutsche Telekom, France Telecom, TeliaSonera, Everything Everywhere and Sprint; and the alliance announced last month between Nokia Siemens Networks and Everything Everywhere.

The analyst firm, Analysys Mason forecasts 124.4m M2M device connections at the end of 2012, growing to 2.1bn connections by 2021 at a 37 per cent compound annual growth rate.