Machine to Machine, or M2M, is seen as the next phase of growth for the wireless industry after voice (2G) and broadband data services (3G and 4G). Cisco’s Internet Business Services Group (IBSG) and other research organizations predict there will be 50 billion connected devices by 2050 while mobile operators routinely mention each subscriber owning 4-5 devices, resulting in 400% to 500% penetration levels with M2M services. These projections are very optimistic, but even if a fraction of these projections materialize it still represents a high growth opportunity for operators.
Even though operators have been offering M2M services for a decade, they have so far approached each M2M service as a separate silo. Each service is implemented by different organizations with their own set of service and management platforms. In many cases, the operator’s role itself is limited
to providing connectivity for the devices.
The new operator vision for M2M expands the concept further to enable connectivity across a broad range of verticals, including transportation, telematics, healthcare and smart grid. In this context, M2M seeks to define a broad and common infrastructure for deployment in any vertical market. Unfortunately, while the mobile network will not require any new network elements for M2M services, the current network infrastructure is not designed to handle billions of devices communicating over it. Therefore, the mobile network will require some major enhancements to support M2M services.
The operator’s goal in the new M2M value chain is to be more than a bit pipe provider and to move up the value chain to offer end to end applications and services. To do so, operators will have to build new service management platforms to adapt to new paradigms such as cloud computing. A new M2M services layer also has to be incorporated in the wireless networks to meet the requirements of the various M2M verticals.
In this issue of Signals Ahead, we analyze the M2M landscape and some of the key players involved in realizing this vision. The business models for M2M are still in flux and eventually multiple business models will have to be implemented. We look at the new business models being explored by mobile operators and MVNOs. The global connectivity requirements of M2M services make it natural fit for cloud services so there will need to be new cloud platforms in both the operator networks and enterprises to support M2M services. We also analyze the requirements and vendors for such platforms. More importantlythe radio and core networks will require enhancements to support the deluge of new M2M connections. We discuss some of the major issues and how the 3GPP standards body and operators are planning to address these issues. All this and more in this issue of Signals Ahead.
The report "Signals Ahead: M2M – toward the Internet of things" is included as part of a subscription to Signals Ahead or it can be purchased separately.
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Signals Ahead is a research-focused product that is published on a periodic basis. Its clientele include all facets of the wireless ecosystem, including some of the largest mobile operators, the top handset suppliers, the major infrastructure vendors, subsystem suppliers, semiconductor companies and financial institutions, including Wall Street, Private Equity and Venture Capitalists, spread across five continents. SHOW LESS READ MORE >
M2M and IoT
M2M Service Layer Platforms
Connectivity Device Platforms (CDP)
Application Enablement Platforms (AEP)
Mobile Network Challenges for M2M
M2M Device Identifiers
Group based optimization
Low power consumption
2G versus 3G
Other connectivity options
Evolving Business Models
Global Footprint for M2M
Which IMSI to use
M2M Service Providers (or M2M MVNOs)
Charging Models - ARPU or ARPM
Index of Figures
Figure 1. M2M Architecture
Figure 2. M2M Platform Functions