There is an emerging trend among wireless carriers and specialist machine-to-machine (M2M) service providers to seek out the means to continue to serve their current M2M customers as those customers extend their own products and services into new geographic markets.
Carriers and service providers that currently operate in one market would rather not lose the international business of existing local customers to overseas competitors. So they have an increasingly urgent need to secure the partnerships necessary to extend the footprint of their M2M connectivity and thereby the reach of their services around the world.
The internationalization of the M2M market is increasing all the time, with more enterprises wishing to launch international lines of business, more carriers seeking to provide global SIM solutions, and more operators entering into strategic partnerships to facilitate service interoperability across borders. Additionally, platform vendors have been building M2M service management platforms that allow enterprises to manage networks of connected devices that are deployed across multiple carriers worldwide.
When the UK carrier EverythingEverywhere launched its M2M service management platform [in September], it also announced a partnership with M2M specialist REDTAIL Telematics. The carrier has now announced its second such agreement by forming a partnership with another North American M2M specialist, the long-standing RACO Wireless.
As a result, EverythingEverywhere will now be supplying RACO Wireless’ customers with connectivity for their international operations so they can expand throughout Europe.
[The deal] in itself is something of a coup. When a service provider moves to a new continental market the tendency is to seek out a connectivity provider with the largest geographic coverage, not one that operates in one national market only. But herein lies the strategic importance of the second part of EverythingEverywhere’s announcement: the carrier has joined a Service Alliance established by France Telecom and Deutsche Telekom earlier this year.
Partnership within the Service Alliance will provide EverythingEverywhere’s M2M customers with international network access and seamless service interoperability across Europe.
More interesting is the fact that, as the UK is also a powerful home market for Vodafone and Telefonica O2 -the two biggest carriers in Western Europe -, the Service Alliance has (evidently) already proved its worth in providing EverythingEverywhere with an effective advantage for winning international M2M contracts. Especially when you consider that Vodafone has its own strategic partnership with Verizon Wireless, specifically for the purpose of providing transatlantic M2M services.
EverythingEverywhere’s [deal with] RACO Wireless highlights the critical importance of coverage and the need for partnerships within the M2M services industry. It also shows the growing importance of the international market in M2M services which is bringing many wireless carriers into direct competition for the first time as they compete for the business of the same international companies.
The M2M market is growing beyond its old remit of being a local concern for national carriers only and some major value chain participants have stated that they anticipate international services to account for 50% of the total M2M market value in the future.
RACO Wireless already has a strong relationship with another relative of EverythingEverywhere, T-Mobile USA, acting as its preferred connectivity reseller for M2M and (effectively) as outsourced management for T-Mobile USA’s M2M business.
As a result of RACO Wireless’ new deal with Everything Everywhere, new dual-IMSI technology is to be introduced to allow M2M devices to have home network status in the USA and UK using a single RACO SIM. This new SIM is expected to be launched in 2012.
Jamie Moss is a senior analyst in Informa Telecoms & Media’s mobile content and applications unit.