Era of embedded devices – Vodafone in M2M alliance with Verizon

15 Feb 2010

MOBILE WORLD CONGRESS 2010, BARCELONA – Embedded mobile devices and machine-to-machine communications will become a reality in the coming years as the result of a deal struck between mobile giants Vodafone and Verizon and tech firm nPhase.

The companies said today they are forming a strategic alliance aimed at accelerating the adoption of global machine-to-machine (M2M) deployments by simplifying the remote management and monitoring of devices spread across both European and US networks.

The alliance is designed to deliver a simple and effective international management solution for the growing number of companies looking to use M2M wireless communications to enhance their customer service and create new service offerings in sectors including energy, healthcare, automotive telematics, consumer and commercial products.

A good example of M2M technology in action is the growing use of smart meters in the utility industry, enabling firms to efficiently collect meter data and provide two-way data transmissions and tailored offers for their customers.

The alliance members anticipate that this move will result in increased demand for M2M services on mobile networks across Europe and North America over the coming years.

Wireless M2M revenues

Globally, industry-wide operator revenues for wireless M2M were €3 billion in 2008, and this is forecast to rise to €8.9 billion in 2012, according to the telecom analyst firm Berg Insight.

The initiative will make it easier for Verizon Wireless and Vodafone customers to activate, monitor and pay for devices that are deployed across both European (on GSM) and US (on CDMA and GSM) networks. The alliance will also offer a single point of contact for provisioning devices that are connected to both Verizon Wireless and Vodafone networks.

At the same time, it will enable firms to centrally manage and control the process of rolling out M2M devices across many countries. This will increase implementation speeds and reduce the cost, complexity and risk traditionally associated with deploying such projects.

The alliance members will also work toward providing customers with a single invoice and a single point of contact for technical and other support.

The nPhase M2M services platform, which integrates with the Vodafone M2M global service platform, will provide customers with a range of online management tools, giving them a single view of their international M2M estate with additional management capabilities in the pipeline.

“M2M technology is playing an increasingly key role in helping firms to deliver more customised services to their customers, but the difficulties of managing devices on a global level was stopping the sector from realising its true potential,” said Erik Brenneis, global head of M2M, Vodafone.

“Through this alliance, we are making it even easier for firms to roll out M2M technology to their customers, where ever they may be.”

What M2M technology does

M2M technology is helping firms to deliver increasingly personalised services to their customers while improving efficiencies. A good example is the growing use of smart meters in the utility industry, enabling firms to efficiently collect meter data and provide two-way communication and tailored offers for their customers.

“This alliance combines the strength of our recently announced nPhase joint venture with Qualcomm with our long-standing global partner Vodafone,” said Tony Lewis, vice-president of Open Development for Verizon Wireless.

“For our customers and for the marketplace, this means simplified management of devices globally across best-in-class networks in both the United States and Europe.”

In addition to the role M2M can play in enabling smarter services, the technology can help large businesses to reduce their operations’ impact on the environment.

A Vodafone report entitled ‘Carbon Connections’ calculates that the greenhouse gas emissions savings from a range of M2M-enabled smart systems could be more than 90 million tonnes per year across 25 EU countries by the year 2020.

“The essence of this new alliance is to simplify the complex,” said Steve Pazol, president of nPhase.

“This business alliance removes many of the complexities by building on the tremendous capabilities and reach of Vodafone and Verizon Wireless to offer a single standard interface, and provide pre-certified global devices that can support both CDMA and GSM networks.”

By John Kennedy

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John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years