Devices and assets of all shapes and sizes will start to be connected all over the globe. Telenor is ready to take its share of the worldwide M2M (Machine-to-Machine) market growth through Telenor Connexion. Per Simonsen, CEO of Telenor Connexion, talks about the future of M2M.
The M2M market has become a mainstream segment of the mobile industry and most major mobile operators have established M2M business entities to focus their efforts in this fast growing market. Telenor, however, is the only major mobile network operators to create a separate organization, Telenor Connexion, completely dedicated to M2M.
Q: There is a consensus among industry observers that we will experience strong growth in mobile connectivity from M2M and embedded mobile applications. Where do you see this growth coming from?
Per: Apart from the increased number of embedded devices, we are predicting the biggest growth in the automotive vertical. This is driven heavily by the eCall initiative, a project intended to bring rapid assistance to motorists involved in a collision anywhere in the European Union. We also predict substantial growth in the smart metering industry due to many countries starting to mandate the use of energy saving smart grid solutions. Smart meters are an innovative and advanced utility meter that records a business or consumers energy, water or gas usage in real time and in greater detail.
Assets of all shapes and sizes will start to be monitored all over the globe. Today we see high price tagged items such as excavators and construction equipment being monitored, but the trend is spreading towards people and pets too. Up until today much of the embedded connectivity development has been focused on machine-to-machine communications and connected things. But, we must not forget about people. The people that drive the cars, live in the buildings, consume the energy and so on.
Q: Interesting! So what’s your take then on the way that M2M is going to impact people’s lives in the future?
Per: I think that what we are going to discover in the coming months, years and even further out is that a lot more information is going to be pushed at us: information that is related to almost everything we do. In short, connectivity is providing digital power to us as end-users and consumers. Combined with an exploding Smart phone penetration people will have the power to act at their fingertips trough smart and purpose built apps.
For example both our customers Volvo and Nissan Leaf have launched Iphone apps letting the user start the heater, get full control over battery status and steer the charging of the car on remote. Smart energy meters are going to tell us how much energy we are using in real-time and what it costs. Making it easier for people to choose to use energy at non peak-times. And security systems will do more than merely issue a break-in alarm. For example, they will tell us when our kids are at home or not at home.
Another good example is car telematics that provide information on driving behavior to insurance companies. That way the premium young drivers pay can be based on accurate information instead of age. It’s a classical win-win app.
Q: What do you see as the industry’s biggest challenge on the marketing front at the moment?
Peer: Unfortunately there is a general impression that wireless networks are nothing more than bit pipes and that price per Mbyte, not quality of service and the total cost of ownership for that service are the key parameters. We are even working with our competitors to change that mindset in order to ensure that M2M connectivity is not undervalued. It is easy to get carried away with growth predictions and they are staggering, but connectivity services are more complex than many people think and they can be and should be rich and robust. We don’t see price per Mbyte as an issue: around 98 per cent of M2M applications use less than 2Mbyte a month.
From a more inward perspective, Telenor Connexion sees that we must move gradually beyond just offering premium connectivity and business consulting to our customers (with business and life critical M2M applications) and find ways to promote the value of our M2M solutions beyond pure data delivery, as our offering is so much more than that.
Q: Telenor Connexion has enjoyed considerable success in the global M2M space. What is your focus right now?
Per: We have supplied premium M2M solutions, in verticals such as Automatic Meter Reading (AMR), Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS), home alarms, fleet management, container management and eHealth. Besides promoting the total value of our solutions, we are maintaining the focus on working closely with Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM’s), device manufacturers, and tier one players that are looking to implement a business or life-critical M2M application. This is why we have customers such as Volvo, Nissan, Renault, Daimler and Scania who are implementing automotive applications, or Securitas Direct, whose solutions generate alarms that have to be delivered immediately. The same criteria apply to telematics and eHealth and of course there are other vertical industries where M2M applications are business critical.
Many times M2M solutions start out locally, but grow into global solutions as they are standardized. This is why it is so important to design a solution for international use from the beginning. We in Telenor Connexion like to help our customers with this type of forward thinking and our experience in multiple verticals allows us to do that.
Q: Do you have any last thoughts you want to share with us?
Per: To sum up, the world of M2M is now fast moving from technology push towards value creation and services – apps inbuilt in devices and smart phones will play an important role here. It also means that the opportunity of embedded connectivity will become more visual and open up for wider acceptance and understanding across individuals, industries and countries. So far, we have only seen the beginning but, no doubt, the predicted growth in M2M is driving a considerable number of companies around the world to scramble to find a way to enter this market and ride the wave of growth. I am confident that Telenor will be part of that wave.