M2M is on a roll, but the move I have in mind is the value chain. From an engineering perspective it’s a clumsy way to create data communications applications and most partnerships, however “strategic,” only paper over the interlink issues such as the need to deal with complex logistic issues like scalable subscription lifecycle management.
An announcement made earlier in the year by seven Tier One MNOs that they are forming an M2M alliance was long on promise. For example, “… members will continuously cooperate with the aim of enhancing the development of the market dynamics …”. Does that mean that they are actually going to do anything? The industry needs to bite the bullet and address an intrinsic issue: different vendors own different links, i.e. they are different places. Steve Priestly, Wyless’ MD, EMEA, said, “We believe that a big hunk of the value chain needs to be in one place.” The reason: “The marketplace is increasingly demanding a deeper level of involvement and a more complex set of services.” That place is Porthos, the company’s management platform, which is getting enhanced functionality as well as new engineering and professional services. The objective is the creation of an offer that is almost an entire “MVNO in a Box” solution.
Modules: the first link in the chain
Modules are a critical, pivotal component. They’re the beating heart of most M2M applications. They determine a solution’s performance and reliability, but at first sight the first link would seem to be an unlikely place to create a “big hunk” solution. It’s also unlikely when you take a second look, but that is exactly what Telit has done and — cliché coming up — it represents a game-changing development.
Last year the company acquired Global Connect, a relatively small company that provided global connectivity services for M2M service and solution providers. However what Telit really bought was Dan Amir, the CEO and Founder. He foresaw the benefits that would accrue by fusing the first two links in the chain: the module and the connectivity service. But it would need the development of a brand-new remote module management system as well as tight, functional integration with a state-of-the-art service delivery platform.
Telit bought into that vision and a year later it has been realized in a multi-faceted offer known as m2mAIR. The functionality is impressive, but let’s keep things simple. Telit employs its own GSM software stack and that enabled the development of a cloud-centric module management system that delivers brand-new functionality, e.g. the ability to detect the difference between a defective module and poor network coverage.
Telefónica also bought into the vision. Unlike most MNOs, this carrier has implemented a separate core network dedicated to M2M. In addition, Telefónica has integrated Jasper’s service delivery platform. Integration includes key core network components and this allows users to access and manage a subscription deployment down to the single subscription level in real-time.
The module management system represents an additional link in the chain, but functionally m2mAIR effectively fuses the wireless modules and the connectivity service. This enables “out-of-the-box” connectivity, which eliminates the need for users to be concerned with procurement procedures, complex logistics and integration into solutions and applications. Connectivity is end-to-end: from the module through to the network’s CGSN (Combined GPRS Service Node).
Providing value added services
M2mAIR comes with a comprehensive set of value-added services: listing them would turn this article into a data sheet. But it is worth mentioning that the tight link between Telefónica’s service delivery platform and the modules allows Telit’s customers to seamlessly generate and obtain real-time information on network and hardware diagnostics. MNOs and MVNOs can’t do that because they don’t have access to that kind of information.
Before looking at some of those services let’s reflect on that cliché. The depth of the Telit / Telefónica partnership is more than a game changer: it’s a development that breaks the regular service delivery mould. Out-of-the box connectivity turns Telit, a module manufacturer, into a value-added service provider that generates revenue from connectivity.
Automated, rule-based subscription life cycle management is one of those services. It allows billing only when subscriptions are actually generating revenues. For example an advanced billing plan can be implemented based on a rule that triggers subscriptions to automatically transition to a non-billable state when they do not generate any traffic after X days and then move back when data traffic has resumed and has crossed a threshold.
Remote module management features include: Network Diagnostics; Remote Reset; Module Inventory Properties; Remote IP Testing; Preferred MNO Selection; Remote Hardware Testing; Usage Policy Management. These services are additional to those of Telefónica’s Service Delivery Platform. Together with the rest of the offer, they can be seen as a "cycle” that starts with problem detection, then with analysis, and ends with resolution.
Although Wyless and Telit come from different ends of the value chain, both companies have recognized the common need to provide value-added services that meet the need of a market that is more demanding, while at the same time recognizing the need to simplify and accelerate deployment. The next article will take a look at Wyless’ offer in more detail.
Edited by Rich Steeves