Machina Research said Vodafone maintained its position as the number one global operator in the field of machine-to-machine (M2M) communications, measuring the company's success on its overall global strategy and not just "raw M2M connections".
According to the research company's M2M CSP Benchmarking Report 2015, AT&T is nonetheless hot on the heels of the UK-based group and is closing the gap. Deutsche Telekom and Telefonica are also included in the group of global leaders, Machina Research added.
The report examines the progress made by 17 major operators across the globe in the field of M2M and Internet of Things (IoT), also including companies such as Orange, Telenor Connexion, Verizon and Softbank/Sprint.
Although the operators are not rated purely on the basis of M2M connections -- which Machina Research said is not necessarily the best guide to "success" -- the company said it is nonetheless important to take this into account. Thus China Mobile and China Unicom have been added to the coverage for the first time for the 2015 report.
"China Mobile has brought the notion of pure M2M connection scale to a new level. The CSP reported a whopping 42 million M2M connections at the end of 2014 (it exceeded the 50 million mark early in 2015), double the size of global leaders Vodafone and AT&T," the research company said.
China Unicom also finds itself in the tier of large-scale CSPs with M2M connections well in excess of the 10 million mark.
However, Machina Research noted that both Chinese operators are "decidedly local" in their M2M strategies, and as such they cannot be truly considered among the top tier of global M2M CSPs.
Lead author Godfrey Chua said there are many elements to defining leadership in the market.
"We believe that a true global strategy, with real reach and capabilities, stand among the more important ones. It is also important to consider scale, experience, technology, and velocity. The top tier of global CSPs we have identified demonstrated excellence across all these areas. For multinational corporations requiring seamless, large-scale, and effective global M2M services and solutions, these are the CSPs they should be conversing with," Chua said.
The report also highlights the increasing importance of M2M to the operator's business. While worldwide subscription growth for traditional mobile services now averages in single digit percentage terms, the weighted average across the 17 companies profiled in the report for M2M connection growth was 28 per cent.
Matt Hatton, the CEO of Machina Research, said the next 12 months should bring some interesting developments, "as efforts move from implementation phases to real world experiences".
- see the Machina Research report
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