M2M continues to be one of the growth stories for European operators as the focus begins to shift away from connectivity.
Market leader Vodafone revealed earlier this month that its M2M revenues grew by 30 percent last year, while a Juniper Research report claimed that cheaper and more accessible technology will create a €15 billion market by the end of 2015.
Jasper Wireless is one of the companies setting the pace. The US-based company now has 16 operators signed up to its platform in 100 countries with Macario Namie, the company’s VP of Marketing, confirming another “tier one” European operator will be announced shortly.
At Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Jasper announced that Telenor and POST Luxembourg are the latest operators to join its roster.
"As the country's leading operator, multinational enterprises look to us when launching connected services into Luxembourg," said Jean-Marie Spaus, Director, member of the POST Luxembourg management board, in a statement announcing the deal.
"Take PSA Peugeot Citroën as an example. It is at the forefront innovation in the connected car market and working with Jasper means we can enable it to seamlessly extend its services to all markets.”
According to Namie, the connected car and home automation/security markets are “exploding”. Every car manufacturer has an embedded SIM strategy, the VP said: “It was predicted that 84 million cars had an embedded SIM last year so even getting a fraction of that can move the [revenue] needle significantly.”
Beyond connectivity, Namie said including hardware, applications and analytics “to make sense of it all” was a good idea, as was having a mixture of horizontal and vertical solutions.
However, he said providing a single vertical proposition doesn’t work as it’s “too narrow a revenue opportunity”.
Portugal Telecom, Deutsche Telekom and Vodafone are three operators who have not gone down the Jasper path, having developed proprietary platforms.
PT’s Open Idea subsidiary is the new kid on the block and focuses on M2M as part of a wider ICT and cloud strategy.
The company has invested strongly in its own platform as Jasper’s model “doesn’t allow for innovation”, Miguel Moreira, CEO, Portugal Telecom Cloud Solutions, told European Communications.
The company, which is working on M2M solutions in the banking and utility metering areas in particular, has a “big opportunity” in Brazil, Moreira said.
The MD did not want to share any financial information, but Juergen Hase, head of DT’s Competence Centre, told European Communications that the Germany-based operator is seeing double-digit growth in the US and in Europe both in terms of revenue and volumes.
Automotive, smart metering and healthcare are the “three big areas” but Hase said educating customers about M2M remains still a challenge.
Equally, it is important to be flexible when it comes to business models. With connected cars, for example, Hase said there is not one business model from an operator point of view. “It depends on the manufacturer... it’s important to have an open architecture from a single layer to a full managed service.”
Growth in infotainment and predictive maintenance service does means ARPU goes up, he claimed.
Cyril Deschanel, Director of M2M for North and South Europe at Vodafone, said his company was also focused on “moving up the value chain” as well as managing core connectivity.
“Big companies want end-to-end solutions and we have that for certain verticals,” he said.
Deschanel revealed that Vodafone has 15 million connected SIMs, six million of which are on its global platform, and is active in 22 countries.
“Automotive is still a big vertical for us while usage-based insurance is growing now alongside utilities,” he added.
Vodafone lost out to Telefónica in the UK smart meter tender last year, but Deschanel dismissed the Spain-based operator’s M2M efforts as being solely focused on marketing.
AT&T is also increasingly looking at leveraging its success in the US by focusing on Europe.
Mike Troiano, VP of Advanced Mobility Solutions at AT&T, told European Communications that the operator is looking to third parties to distribute its solutions in Europe.
“We have very focused effort on enterprise M2M and global manufacturers in particular. Asset tracking is huge for us and we’re seeing momentum with security systems. We’re also placing some interesting bets with utility companies,” he said.
The company is aiming to differentiate itself by digitising whole value chains as opposed to coming up with just autonomous solutions.
“For example, were linking cargo that arrives on ships in a port to the trains that carry the cargo and to the warehouses that hold it,” said Troiano.
“The challenge isn’t technical it’s more about understanding customer business models. We are making a lot of money and not just from connectivity.”