The Global M2M Association (GMA)--a partnership between Deutsche Telekom, Orange and TeliaSonera--has initiated its newest member, Telecom Italia. As the GMA continues to grow, it becomes more apparent that having each company use a different M2M connectivity platform adds complexity and cost to multinational, multi-carrier M2M implementations. This comment examines four options for the GMA's M2M platform approach.
The GMA has four options, but one is a clear winner
The GMA's geographical footprint is expanding. Following the addition Telecom Italia, the GMA partnership now includes operators with business units in Europe, two of the major Latin American markets (Brazil through TIM Brasil and Argentina through Telecom Argentina), many African countries and the United States (through T-Mobile US).
However, its members' commitment to using their own M2M connectivity platforms adds implementation and management complexity and costs for those enterprises choosing to deploy multinational, multi-carrier M2M solutions with GMA partners. RFPs for multinational deployments increasingly require not only worldwide coverage, but also a common experience and service-level agreements. Having a common platform across operators allows multinational M2M deployments to have a common user experience and SLAs, and reduces the complexities of solution deployment.
TeliaSonera uses the Ericsson Device Connection Platform (DCP) solution. Deutsche Telekom, Orange and Telecom Italia each use their own in-house legacy systems. The GMA should adopt a common platform, and--after considering the following four options--we believe the obvious candidate is the Ericsson DCP solution.
Option 1: Each operator keeps using its own legacy infrastructure
This option does not make sense in either the short or long term. If each operator continues to use its own solution, enterprises that want to implement an IoT/M2M solution across GMA partners will need to integrate multiple platforms. This will seriously impede the ability of the GMA partners to offer simple-to-deploy, global solutions, which is one of the organisation's stated aims.
Option 2: The GMA operators all choose the Jasper Wireless platform
This is a poor idea for three reasons.
- A group of operators (including AT&T, KPN, NTT and Telefónica) have already adopted the Jasper Wireless platform, and none of them is a member of the GMA--in fact, they are competitors. Some parts of the IoT/M2M connectivity solution are constrained by the features and functionality of the connectivity platform, so we believe it important to enterprises that operators not all adopt the same platform. Having at least two consortia of operators co-operating around different platforms will add choice for enterprises in the IoT/M2M market.
- Jasper Wireless is a relatively small provider of OSS/BSS solutions, so it needs to prioritise customisation and development of its platform. Updates to its platform could favour the company's largest customer--AT&T. The complexities of integrating the Jasper Wireless's platform into a carrier's network could increase the time-to-market for M2M solutions.
- TeliaSonera has already chosen to adopt the Ericsson DCP solution, so is highly unlikely to switch to Jasper Wireless.
Option 3: The GMA operators adopt a common connectivity platform
We believe the only way for the GMA partnership to ever achieve its stated goal of making M2M solutions and innovations "easier to deploy and manage," is to adopt a common platform. This would give GMA partners a competitive and unique global offering. The choice that makes most strategic sense is the Ericsson DCP solution, which TeliaSonera has adopted. Ericsson is a leading OSS/BSS and communications network vendor with deep resources and commitment to the product line. It is building out more M2M solutions, including an M2M device verification solution to accelerate time-to-market for M2M devices, as well as other solutions not yet announced. Ericsson also has a global footprint, which should help operators to rapidly deploy the technology across all GMA partners. For these reasons, we favour this option for the GMA partners, their operating companies and joint ventures. GMA partners could choose one of the tertiary connectivity platforms in the market, but we believe this would slow down the development, implementation and sales of M2M solutions through GMA partners.
Option 4: The GMA operators adopt a common connectivity platform for multinational, multi-carrier IoT/M2M deployments, but retain the option of using their own platforms for single-carrier deployments
This option is similar to the third in that it provides a common platform for GMA operators to use for multi-carrier M2M deployments, but still affords them some flexibility in using their internal platforms for single-carrier deployments. This approach is not the most financially prudent because supporting development of two platforms is likely to be more expensive than supporting one. However, in the short term it might overcome some of the internal constraints faced by GMA operators. AT&T faced this issue for a while because it was supporting development of both its internally-built Enterprise On Demand platform and a Jasper Wireless deployment. Currently, AT&T is focusing more development on its Jasper Wireless deployment.
We recognise that GMA partners do not need to make a decision about their M2M connectivity platforms. They can certainly continue the way they are today. However, we believe this would impede their ability to compete on multinational, worldwide opportunities.
Steve Hilton is the Principal Analyst of Analysys Mason's Enterprise research program which specializes in M2M, cloud and small enterprise strategies. His primary areas of specialisation include fixed and mobile communications services, M2M, cloud services, and sales channels. Steve has 18 years' experience in technology and communications marketing, is a frequent speaker at industry and client fora, and publishes monthly articles in several respected trade journals for the enterprise and channel partner community.