Although there have been many, developments in M2M continue to grow, with one of the biggest in the second half of 2007 being the introduction of in-SIM M2M solutions. The developments are designed to improve flexibility and ease of management for enterprises, as well as reduce the cost of operating M2M services.
One of the most notable advances recently was the news that Telit Wireless Solutions has unveiled its GE863-SIM, and module solution integrating the “Embedded SIM” Gemalto product, M2M card. This new module has been designed specifically for the requirements of M2M applications. Telit says its customers stand to benefit from the SIM’s enhanced reliability, as well as considerable cost savings and efficiency in the development and production of their M2M solutions. The first Telit GE863-SIM modules were made available from October 2007.
This module is the first ever to feature the innovative M2M card concept within an M2M card. Gemalto is the first supplier of these SIMs, which include specific M2M features and have a new form factor embedded directly into the M2M module at the manufacturing stage. This eliminates any manual operation, such as insertion and configuration and as such, is designed to significantly reduce the related costs.
The M2M card product developed by Gemalto is of particular importance, since the SIMs used in the M2M sector need to satisfy very specific demands such as robustness to last 10 years and resistance to extreme temperatures between -40°C and +85°C, vibrations, shocks and humidity.
“Gemalto is a world-wide leader in the development of SIM-based solutions and services and particularly active in the M2M market. Given the business opportunity of the M2M market, the choice of the technological partner quickly became strategic, and the name of Gemalto came across as obvious,” says Dominikus Hierl, President of Telit Wireless Solutions, explaining the choice of SIM provider.
“In order to respond to M2M industry challenges, Gemalto is developing a new long-life SIM card, with special M2M specifications and Over-The-Air mechanisms. This new, more robust and immovable SIM will reduce the logistics on behalf of the mobile network operators (MNOs) and reduce the cost of ownership for all players within the value chain,” says Jean-François Schreiber, SVP Gemalto Operated Services.
Gemalto’s people say that the GE863-SIM GSM/GPRS module, with its M2M card, which remains under the full control and administration of the operators, is suitable for all M2M sectors. The Automated Meter Reading (AMR) sector will benefit particularly well from the advantages of this new module due to the fact that AMR applications require the SIM card to have a long service life and are a popular target for thieves. The GE863-SIM also offers various market opportunities for mobile network operators and mobile virtual network operators who want to get involved in the rapidly growing M2M market. Operators of mobile network services will therefore in future not only be able to set up access to the mobile telephone network, but will also provide all hardware and additional services in a single package.
Another company to have notched up recent success in the field of on-SIM M2M is Jasper Wireless, which with M2M wireless module vendor Wavecom recently announced that its StarService is now being offered on Jasper Wireless’ global service platform.
“Jasper Wireless is delighted to work with Wavecom to be the first M2M mobile operator to enable inSIM," said Jahangir Mohammed, CEO, Jasper Wireless. “Wavecom and Jasper Wireless are changing the business model for enterprises by removing the upfront investment that has been a key barrier to mass adoption of wireless M2M," said Ron Black, CEO, Wavecom. "Jasper Wireless is unique in its ability to deliver a single global service and we are delighted to partner with them by combining our companies' great technologies with innovative business models to deliver exceptional value to industrial M2M and automotive customers."
Jasper Wireless operates a service platform, previously unavailable in the M2M market, to connect and manage machines around the world. The service includes three key components. First is the Jasper Wireless M2M Global SIM, providing local service in over 35 countries and growing every month. Second is the web-based Jasper Wireless Control Center, offering one dashboard for all machines, with complete visibility and control of communications. The third component is a group of vertical application solutions built and optimized to meet the unique needs of specific industries including fleet and asset management, vehicle telematics, security and remote product service .Wavecom StarService includes the new Wavecom Wireless Microprocessor 50 with inSIMTM (embedded SIM) free of charge with a subscription to the secure Wavecom Intelligent Device Services web portal. Wavecom inSIMTM is an industrial-grade implementation of traditional SIM cards, built to endure the harsh environments common to M2M applications.
StarService enables customers to obtain Wavecom’s WM50 module for free with subscription to a remote device management service. This is a way for M2M vendors to maintain a profit margin as wireless connectivity becomes integrated with end-equipment.
“Many module customers appear to regard the wireless module as essentially a generic ‘bit pipe’,” ABI analyst Sam Lucero explained to TMCNet at the time of the launch. “They base purchase decisions largely on the price that module vendors are willing to offer.”
Lucero added that price sensitivity is exacerbated by the fact that end-equipment for M2M applications tends to be fairly inexpensive to begin with; thus the connectivity component must be as low-cost as possible to lessen impact on gross margins for the module customer.
“This encourages module customers to negotiate hard for lower module pricing,” Lucero says. Lucero added that the threat to wireless module vendors comes in several forms. One is the potential for being displaced in the value chain by baseband integrated circuit (IC) vendors who enter the cellular M2M market. Another threat comes from downstream value chain players (e.g. OEMs, solution providers) bypassing the module vendors by working directly with semiconductor suppliers.
“The threat of obsolescence will continue to place tremendous strain on wireless module vendors’ gross margins,” Lucero predicted. "As machine makers scale their businesses using wireless technologies, having their equipment connected out-of-the-box from day one is critical.
More flexible and cost-efficient solutions will also be necessary as M2M moves from the 2G domain, where it has largely been sited until now, into 3G and 4G technologies. At this point, many think that WiMAX will start to have a real impact on operators’ cellular M2M strategies, as momentum grows in the deployment of WiMAX as a next-generation WWAN communications technology. WiMAX is more spectrally efficient and cost-effective to operate in carrier networks when compared with W-CDMA and CDMA EV-DO, making WiMAX very suitable for low data rate, low ARPU M2M applications — when and where WiMAX connectivity is available.
Sam Lucero, ABI Research senior analyst, says, "Sprint and Clearwire are the two most significant service providers deploying WiMAX in the United States. Sprint, a CDMA-based operator, has selected WiMAX as its path to 4G service offerings. Sprint will work with Clearwire — a Craig McCaw startup that has received $600 million in venture backing from Intel and $300 million from Motorola — to provide joint coverage to each other's respective customers on the nationwide WiMAX networks deployed by the two companies.
"Sprint is rapidly deploying WiMAX infrastructure in North America, and believes WiMAX is well-suited to deliver cost-effective, wide area M2M services: a viewpoint borne out by ABI Research analysis."
There is also growing interest in Europe in the deployment of WiMAX. Furthermore, there are indications suggesting an interest in employing WiMAX for M2M applications such as AMI (Advanced Metering Infrastructure).
Sprint and Clearwire are only two among a number of interested parties. Lucero adds, Additionally, municipal Wi-Fi can be deployed at a very low cost and is well-suited for select M2M applications, such as AMI, public safety telematics, and video surveillance.
Cellular M2M applications have traditionally only required relatively low data rate connections, for which cellular 2G technologies, such as GPRS and CDMA 1xRTT have been perfectly adequate. In 2006, however, high-speed wireless M2M applications, such as video surveillance, Remote Information Display, and in-vehicle camera systems, began to be deployed.
While high speed wireless M2M will only represent a small proportion of total M2M connections over the course of the forecast period, the number of such deployed devices should grow strongly, utilising cellular 3G technologies, such as HSDPA and CDMA EV-DO, as well as WiMAX, and municipal Wi-Fi.
Businesses that depend on the ability to monitor and control remote processes may like the idea of Web-based software that tracks event data and relays it back to a desktop or mobile interface.
Another possibly disruptive approach comes from the hosted market, where a separate network is maintained by a third party provider, such as Numerix. Numerix launched FastTrack at the end of October 2007, a service designed for companies that need to track off-site events like the temperature in a remote facility, the whereabouts of a fleet of trucks or substance flow.
Besides the hosted application, other components of the technology are the company's AnyNet (GSM)-based wireless device, and wireless machine-to-machine (M2M) network.
The company hopes the hosted technology will reduce the hassle of dealing with technical support, software updates, and in-house IT infrastructure for their customers. "With FastTrack, Numerex is answering the call to bring reliable, cost- effective M2M capabilities to organizations of all sizes and across all industries to help them more effectively manage operations," said Chuck Horne SVP Marketing of Numerex. "Because it is powered by Numerex's own infrastructure, network, and supported by our trained experts, FastTrack enables organisations and industries that have previously seen M2M as 'too complex' or 'too costly' to get up and running quickly and for literally pennies per day."
Horne adds that FastTrack brings the benefits of wireless M2M to virtually any type of industry with remote monitoring and control requirements, including highway and transportation, utilities, security, SCADA and agriculture, and a variety of wide area monitoring situations, such as pipeline temperature sensors, pressure measuring points, flow monitoring, discrete level monitoring and pulse generating sensors.
Because the solution is hosted end to end, FastTrack provides an alternative to lengthy application and device development projects allowing customers to pilot, test and deploy projects immediately, claims.
Although M2M may look at first site like a static technology in a limited market, in fact the industry is continuing to develop both its business models, underlying technology and delivery method. 2008 looks like being the busiest year yet.