Olivier Beaujard, VP market development at Sierra Wireless, discusses developments in the M2M space.
Eurocomms.com: Operators are increasingly looking at M2M – what role do you see them playing and what is their best route to market?
Olivier Beaujard: M2M is attracting greater attention from operators with dedicated organisations, teams, and billing plans designed for M2M offerings. There is a tremendous opportunity for operators to offer tiered services around specific market segments and increase their revenues.
M2M applications allow operators to charge based on the type of data, rather than the amount of data. With an alarm application, for example, the customer will place a higher value on the immediate transmission of an alarm, while the monitoring or log file information can be sent overnight.
Operators are starting to recognise this trend as offering a profitable alternative to the all-you-can-eat plans that have characterised the handset market to date.
Which industry verticals do you think offer the most potential for operators?
The expansion of wireless networks across the world in recent years has made it increasingly easy for M2M communications to take place and has thrust the technology into the limelight across a range of industries, including automotive, energy, healthcare and, more recently, the consumer space.
One of the most important areas for development is in end-to-end energy management. Countries won’t solve energy consumption problems by simply building more power plants and monitoring energy usage.
The automotive industry is another growth area for M2M, with more models every year featuring a wide variety of connected applications, including emergency calling, diagnostics, navigation, infotainment, usage-based insurance, and stolen vehicle tracking and recovery.
From a telco perspective, what do you regard as the biggest challenge to M2M over the next 12-24 months?
Technology complexity and interoperability. There are a lot of complexities across the value chain, ranging from segment-specific technology requirements to service pricing. Reducing complexity and developing open standards will benefit everyone in the telecoms ecosystem and is key to unlocking growth.
Partnerships are key to being successful at M2M: what, specifically, can Sierra Wireless do to enable operators to profit from M2M?
Sierra Wireless is partnering with operators to offer one-stop-shop solutions. We offer the broadest portfolio of devices in the industry, covering a wide range of industry segments and applications.
We also offer a services platform that ultimately does two things: it enables M2M applications to be efficiently operated and managed on the network, and it also can provide the opportunity for new revenue streams for network operators, through device management and application enablement services.
You recently launched a 3G version of your Open AT Application Framework - what benefits does this offer telcos?
Solutions for M2M markets on 3G networks are gaining rapid adoption in multiple markets worldwide. The Open AT Application Framework means that, for the first time, M2M customers have a seamless path between 2G and 3G. Customers who have built 2G applications with the Open AT Application Framework can now use the same software and hardware to migrate their solutions to 3G networks, using Open AT to build their applications once, and deploy them in any market.
From a technology perspective, what exciting future developments can you tell us about?
As we enter the next phase of M2M communications, Sierra Wireless has already collaborated with partners to develop next generation applications such as parking meters with power stations that let our electric vehicles know they’re available and notify our smartphones when our car is fully charged, wristbands that monitor vital signs and contact healthcare providers if they detect a health issue, and connected commercial coffee machines that detect malfunctions and send reorder alerts, and can be remotely monitored and managed to ensure product quality.
Today’s connected services are still driven almost entirely by people. In the M2M world of the future, services will be driven by the devices themselves—they will recognise each other, communicate with each other, and interact with third-party services that take advantage of their connectivity, with little human interference.
As much as this connected services vision seems almost within our grasp, some fundamental changes must occur before it can be a reality, both in the way that devices communicate with each other and with the network, and in how network operators work with device manufacturers.
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