Sponsored By

M2M and the need for speed

One of the most attractive characteristics of the anticipated M2M explosion is that its applications and modules will be based on older network technologies. Speak to anyone looking to promote M2M and they’ll tell you that it offers operators the opportunity to carry on monetising networks that are nearing the end of their useful life as platforms for consumer services. But is this really the best approach?

Mike Hibberd

May 18, 2011

2 Min Read
The FCC wants gigabit internet in every US state by 2015
The FCC wants gigabit internet in every US state by 2015

One of the most attractive characteristics of the anticipated M2M explosion is that its applications and modules  will be based on older network technologies. Speak to anyone looking to promote M2M and they’ll tell you that it offers operators the opportunity to carry on monetising networks that are nearing the end of their useful life as platforms for consumer services.

The economies of scale built into GSM mean that M2M modules built to function on these networks are cheap and plentiful. CDMA modules are more expensive according to carriers, because of the royalties due to Qualcomm on each unit, but they’re still cut-price compared to the cost of modules that work on advanced 3G networks, let alone LTE. So M2M should be cheap to provide in great volume, making it the perfect antidote to dwindling growth in the ‘human’ market.

But this isn’t the only way of looking at the situation.  Another reason for the appeal of M2M is that modules could have life spans far exceeding those of the average smartphone, which is streaking towards obsolescence as soon as it’s first fired up. Carriers involved in early M2M deployments suggest that static modules for applications like remote metering could have usable lives of up to 15 years. Seen against that backdrop, maybe the deployment of 2G modules doesn’t look like such a bright idea.

If metering companies have to do a truck roll to every deployment in five years’ time to upgrade their modules to more modern technologies, they’re going to incur significant costs that they might feel ought to be borne by the carrier that sold them a service with a limited lifetime.

Furthermore, if there’s one thing the last five years has taught us, it’s that we have no idea what kind of services and applications will be possible or plausible in another five. Smart meters could be used for all sorts of other things by 2016, but the possibilities could be limited by deploying older, slower technology.

It’s a view that was put forward recently by Brian Higgins, executive director for LTE ecosystem development at Verizon. “You want to make sure you’re getting the right technology in place for the next ten years so that, tomorrow, your device can take advantage of capabilities that you’re not envisioning today.”

The problem with this approach, of course, is that it recasts M2M as an expensive deployment option. So what’s the answer? Will slow and steady win the race, or does M2M have a need for speed?

Read more about:

Discussion

About the Author(s)

Mike Hibberd

Mike Hibberd was previously editorial director at Telecoms.com, Mobile Communications International magazine and Banking Technology | Follow him @telecomshibberd

Get the latest news straight to your inbox.
Register for the Telecoms.com newsletter here.

You May Also Like