As machine-to-machine (M2M) communications continues to grow, the opportunities for mobile service providers (MSPs) are abounding just as steadily.
Typically when mobile service providers think about the M2M market, they consider how they can support directly connected devices, i.e., those connected via 2G, 3G, and soon Long Term Evolution (LTE). In addition, according to an Alcatel-Lucent (News - Alert) TechZine article, Expanding the Mobile Service Provider’s Role in M2M, MSPs can use existing network assets to offer new services for indirectly connected M2M devices as well— for things such as home automation, utility meter monitoring and consumer electronics.
Analysys (News - Alert) Mason research suggests there will be 2 billion directly connected M2M devices by 2020, and MSPs are already working to ensure their networks can support M2M traffic growth. But in total, GSMA (News - Alert) predicts that there will be about 12 billion M2M devices by 2020. Mobile service providers have the technology assets to expand their role in M2M and can generate new revenues if they offer services for both directly connected and indirectly connected M2M devices.
From a network technology perspective, providing services beyond connectivity for indirectly connected M2M devices makes sense. Alcatel-Lucent points out the following factors:
- Communications from indirectly connected M2M devices already traverse their network. No additional network traffic will be generated by providing support for indirectly connected devices.
- The gateways that provide the entry point for the indirectly connected devices are already directly connected to service providers’ network assets.
Since MSPs are already upgrading their infrastructure to support M2M traffic, supporting indirectly connected devices allows them to reuse those infrastructure assets to expand the scope and scale of their M2M offerings.
Alcatel-Lucent says having the right capabilities, designed specifically for mobile networks, that enable MSPs to design, engineer, optimize, manage, and price their networks is critical. The Alcatel-Lucent 9900 Wireless Network Guardian provides such capabilities. An M2M Service Delivery Platform (SDP), it extends SDP functionality to include data about indirectly connected M2M devices allows service providers to offer M2M application providers new services such as bundled billing, data storage, advanced analytics and remote configuration and diagnostics.
The accelerating rollout of LTE, along with the already substantial use of 2.5G and 3G in the M2M sector puts MSPs in a central role of evolving ecosystems. Opportunities abound, especially since with minimal additional technical effort and risk, MSPs can extend their M2M service offerings and leverage existing and new network assets for indirectly connected M2M devices.
Edited by Peter Bernstein