(M2M) communications are known for leveraging mobile networks for niche data applications, such as remote heart monitoring or road traffic management. But wireless dealers and VARs now can find applications for the socalled Internet of things in a wide range of business settings, and can source from a range of suppliers.
Typical examples of M2M applications include ski jackets with GPS tracking, bracelets programmed with two-way voice access linking medical centers and caregivers to patients, and remote monitoring of fleet vehicles tied to inventory controls. Now, ABI Research says M2M is becoming a key enabler of enterprise and industrial applications, and about to enter a new era of large-scale deployments. It predicts sales of more than 10 million units in 2007 and an annual growth rate of 32 percent through 2011.
Formerly, small companies would offer limited vertical solutions using cellular M2M, whether in metering, industrial control, security or fleet management, says Erik Michielsen, director of RFID and M2M research at ABI Research. Operators used to be skeptical about M2M opportunities and the low monthly revenues they provide. Now, operators such as Cingular, Sprint, Orange, TeliaSonera and T-Mobile are rolling M2M into their business solutions groups.
The Iris Camera from Pedagog, for example, makes use of Telits GE863 wireless M2M module enabling users to view images on their KORE mobile phones.
For instance, Sprint Nextel Corp., via the NEXTEL acquisition, ended up with an M2M competency within its embedded solutions division and inherited the NEXTEL channel program for hardware. M2M is a big initiative for the carrier, who is going after a range of vertical markets via channel partners with applications like event notifications, point-of-purchase solutions, alarms and supply-chain management via RFID integration.
Dealers and VARs also can turn to pure-play providers for solutions in this space. Michielsen notes, M2M also a compelling proposition for MVNOs often called telemetry service providers who buy airtime from carriers and then provide value-added services specific to particular M2M markets.
One such MVNO is KORE Telematics, a master reseller of GPRS/EDGE data access in North America that offers services via sales partners and developers. Partners also can interconnect directly to KORE technical resources for faster fault diagnosis and repair. The company introduced new messaging capabilities at CTIA Wireless IT + Entertainment, including alerts generated by property alarms and vehicle anti-theft devices.
It also announced a co-marketing agreement with Telit Wireless Solutions, which launched in the United States at the show. The two will promote each others services and products to North American application integrators, sales partners and users, to accelerate industry adoption of M2M wireless technology. Telit offers GSM/GPRS products with new CDMA modules. The companys four product families are tailored to different levels of integration and volumes according to application size and production scale, and each addressing distinct application groups such as telematics, fleet management and automatic meter reading. Within these families, products have the same form factor and functionality, so all modules within a family are interchangeable, due to uniformity in size, shape, connectors and software interface.
Aeris.net is another MVNO option for VARs. It provides an M2M network in North America via more than 30 wireless carriers. The companys M2M network serves several markets via authorized partners, including security, telematics, industrial, transportation and homeland security.
|ABI Research www.abiresearch.com
KORE Telematics www.koretelematics.com
Sprint Nextel Corp. www.sprint.com
Telit Wireless Solutions www.telit.com