M2M: A blast from the past gets renewed attention

Sue Marek

Lately there's been much ado about the machine-to-machine communications area and the potential it holds for the wireless industry. There are several reasons for the renewed attention: device module prices are declining, wireless networks are faster and the various vertical groups have a better understanding of wireless networks and how they can help their businesses. But perhaps the biggest reason behind the renewed push in M2M is that the nation's wireless operators are finally seeing the growth potential and focusing their attention on this area.

It's interesting that we are talking about M2M again. I remember writing articles about wireless telemetry and asset tracking for industries like long-haul trucking and meter reading more than a decade ago, when wireless verticals were considered "niche" markets that offered interesting applications. Today, it's impossible to classify these M2M verticals as niche markets when you consider the growth potential they hold for the industry. Berg Research estimates that the number of wireless M2M connections will grow at an annual rate of 25.6 percent to reach 187.1 million connections in 2014.

Of course, long-haul trucking and meter reading are just a few of the industries that can use wireless technology to make their businesses better and more efficient. Mobile health and smart grids are two areas that are getting a lot of attention today because of the potential they hold. But there are still a lot of uncertainties about both. On the mobile health front, patient and doctor willingness to implement these solutions is tied directly to whether insurance companies will reimburse for these solutions. Meanwhile, in the smart grid space, President Obama's stimulus package has helped propel the industry, and there are now 100 smart grid projects planned to launch in the next five years. But there are regulatory hurdles, and utility companies are notoriously slow moving when it comes to technology.

FierceWireless decided to take a deep-dive into the M2M space and look specifically at certain vertical markets as well as provide some insight into the overall potential for this market. Check out our latest ebook, "The M2M Opportunity," here. --Sue

P.S. FierceWireless Associate Editor Phil Goldstein will be following today's news announcements from the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference. You can check out our coverage starting at 1 p.m. EDT here.