Orange launches M2M solution with Wavecom and Alcatel

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M2M Connect rolled out across UK, France and Belgium

Orange today announces the next phase in its machine-to-machine offering, the launch of its M2M Connect platform, and strategic partnerships with Wavecom and Alcatel.

Orange is launching a first for Europe; M2M Connect, a combined network and data platform that will make machine-to-machine solutions more cost-effective, and easier to implement and use.  Intended for local, national or pan European usage, the M2M Connect platform is today available in the UK, France and Belgium and will be extended to other countries during 2004. 

Machine-to-machine, or 'telemetry', is the automatic or programmed transfer of data between two machines across a wireless network that facilitates remote monitoring and controlling.  Machines such as fire alarms, parking meters, vehicles and vending units can communicate with a central computer, returning data that can be used in a number of ways such as in usage monitoring and temperature control.  In addition, businesses can analyse buying patterns and personal preferences though the analysis of real time stock control. This business data can then be used to identify trends that can help develop targeted loyalty programmes and improve marketing communications.

Other more basic machine-to-machine solutions currently available simply offer a SIM card and a telemetry tariff.  The M2M Connect platform combines these with a data gateway based on an internet interface, on which vertical applications can be developed and supported.  It is the first and only combined network and data platform for machine-to-machine solutions. To date, building even a simple machine-to-machine solution has been a difficult and complex task, involving a variety of different partners.  The M2M Connect platform removes that complexity, and makes the whole process of building and managing machine-to-machine solutions simpler, quicker and cheaper.

The roll out today of M2M Connect in UK, France and Belgium offers those businesses operating across Europe a single point of entry into the Orange network with centralised reporting and monitoring, and a unified European pricing approach.  In addition customers will benefit from a single service level agreement and centralised account management at Orange.  This service, developed for multi-national companies, is currently not provided by any other operator in this market. 

Machine-to-machine, is a growth market; Frost and Sullivan suggests that as many as 13 billion devices across Europe have the potential to communicate. A wide range of vertical market sectors is being seen as driving uptake: transport, vending, utilities, home security, and commercial equipment (such as photocopiers and franking machines). 

Below are some examples of vertical applications that can be achieved through the M2M Connect platform:
Vehicles: Keep track of a fleet; inform customers of where their delivery is; receive alerts when vehicles need servicing or cross country borders

Office equipment: Copiers, coffee machines and air-conditioning units call out their own engineers; broken or stolen machines trigger an alarm

Meters: Cut the cost of home visits out completely by getting electricity and gas meters to read themselves, get ticket machines to reveal when the cash needs emptying

In the UK, M2M Connect is helping trains to run more effectively. Bombardier Transportation, the global leader in rail equipment, manufacturing and servicing has been using the M2M Connect platform with great success.  On board machine-to-machine systems are used to transmit details of how individual carriages are performing and when they will need maintenance. Factors such as wheel adhesion levels, door closing times and engine performance are monitored and then passed to train maintainers enabling them to fix faults as soon as they occur.

Vincent Smedley, Engineering Director, New Products at Bombardier Transportation Services comments: With reliable, timely and accurate data, we can now supply the rail industry with business critical information.  The Orange M2M Connect platform is helping us to plan our daily maintenance schedule more efficiently, which allows us to smooth the workload for our staff and target issues much more accurately."

Orange's initial partners in the delivery of vertical applications based on the M2M Connect platform are Wavecom and Alcatel, and further partnerships will be announced during the year.  Wavecom has been a leader in the machine-to-machine market for many years, and will be providing wireless modules with built-in connectivity to the M2M Connect service. Working with Alcatel as a systems integrator, Orange will be able to tackle even the most complex business problem to find the right machine-to-machine solution.

Philippe Bernard, VP of Orange Business Solutions, says "The launch of M2M Connect represents a huge step forward in machine-to-machine.  Together with our partners, we are creating the standards for the machine-to-machine market and making it easier for businesses to take advantage of its benefits. 

"M2M Connect is a tangible example of Orange's commitment to building partnerships that deliver relevant, easy-to-use wireless solutions to meet our customers' strategic and operational needs.  It also demonstrates Orange's wider strategy to move further up the value chain with the delivery of tailored, end-to-end solutions that can operate seamlessly across borders.  This is critical for serving multi-national companies."

Pierre Piver, VP of Wavecom's Vertical Applications business unit, says: "We are proud to be a preferred partner to the Orange Group in the M2M market, working to give customers all the tools they need to transform potential into business. Together, we will provide an easy-to-use, viable and cost-effective platform with the guarantee of quality and level of service that customers are entitled to expect from two industry leaders, and thus help accelerate market expansion."

Jean-Michel Cornille, President of mobile solutions activities at Alcatel says: "As a partner, we know that Orange understands the value of marrying expertise to deliver true end-to-end solutions. Our common approach is particularly consistent for business customers with specific and complex needs for their vertical applications. In the field of machine-to-machine solutions, that represent a huge market opportunity, we will initially focus on delivering end to end solutions to the vending machine industry."

Commenting on the launch, Lars Vestergaard, Research Manager at IDC states : "Machine-to-machine is an exciting growth area for telecoms.  Where it previously was a complicated niche application, we are now seeing it emerge in many cases as an easily-deployed solution relevant to all sorts of businesses. IDC is seeing tremendous activity from various players in the machine-to-machine market.  Combining competencies through partnerships such as this one will provide the optimal situation for the development and implementation of future solutions.

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