I had the opportunity to present and sit on a panel at the Connected World Conference in Chicago last week, and I thought I’d summarize some of the key discussion points from these sessions. That Machine-to-Machine (M2M) is gaining ever increasing mindshare and market size is indisputable. Some recent market data: the Cisco Visual Networking Index (VNI) (http://www.cisco.com/go/vni) forecasts that there will be over 5 billion personal devices connected to mobile networks by 2014 – and potentially billions of M2M-capable nodes. ABI Research forecasts nearly 200m deployed M2M devices by 2014, and operators’ own forecasts are much more aggressive, numbering over a billion in the same timeframe! And Berg Insight projects the share for M2M of total mobile subscriptions to grow from 1.4% in 2009 to 3.1% in 2014, with the U.S. having the highest M2M penetration at 4.3% of all mobile connections – largely due to massive adoption of telematics technology in the automotive industry.
M2M Vertical Markets
M2M is already driving operational process improvements for businesses, who are ever more willing to connect via cellular connection because of the increase in robustness of the technology. The key vertical industries for Mobile M2M include:
Energy/Utilities – M2M will transform energy production, distribution, and consumption in ways that the Internet transformed communications.
Healthcare – remote health monitoring and distant disease management are expected to be key parts of tomorrow’s health care system as more emphasis is given to cost containment and efficiencies in health care delivery.
Security – The move toward IP-based video surveillance is a driver for M2M security applications.
Transportation – Fleet tracking applications determine location and operational status of vehicles/inventory -- to track location, duration, idling time, provide trip reports, cargo unloading/loading stats.
Consumer – With M2M, operators could be looking at a greatly expanded “Total Available Household” revenue opportunity by providing mobile services for smart meters, Connected Home integration systems, mobile video, location tracking for pets, remote Healthcare monitoring, digital picture frames, and more.
Dedicated M2M Mobile Networks
Mobile Operators are increasingly deploying mobile packet core network elements (e.g., GGSNs, PDSNs, HLRs, etc.) specifically for the provisioning of M2M services. For operators, separate network elements provide several benefits including simplification of internal business operations and optimization of network utilization.
Any G, over a Common Core Mobile Network
The market for mobile M2M today consist mostly of 2G connections, as bandwidth requirements are minimal for many M2M applications such as telemetry. But many new use cases will require 3G and 4G mobile data bandwidth, especially those that benefit from the high bandwidth and low latency that 4G offers. Some examples include: