Operators including Vodafone, Telefonica, Verizon and AT&T are putting significant resources into developing M2M (Machine to Machine) business units. Manufacturers and vendors are increasingly building cellular modules into their product offerings and this is driving the adoption of M2M, providing an additional stream of revenue for the operators.
The M2M market itself is highly complex considering the fragmented ecosystem, complex business/billing models, high costs relative to ARPU (average revenue per unit) and lack of buy-in from potential stakeholders. Another complex issue that needs to be addressed that arises from M2M is roaming. This is mainly because of the lack of global partnerships and billing models in this sphere.
However, as the M2M ecosystem develops, MNOs and MVNOs will undoubtedly achieve better revenue and profit margins from M2M roaming. According to a 2012 survey by MACH, more than three-quarters of the respondents including global MNOs and CSPs believe that M2M roaming (77%) represents a great opportunity for revenue generation. The survey also noted that 22% of operators questioned are already offering M2M specific roaming agreements, with 42% of operators expecting to put these in place within the next two years.
Global partnerships will play an important role in operators’ M2M success, as the lack of M2M roaming is often hailed as a key barrier – there is a need for commercial agreements to be in place for rapid deployment of M2M. In February 2012, Sprint announced a global M2M roaming partnership with France Telecom’s Orange business division to offer its customers M2M data services while roaming in 180 countries. Juniper expects global operators to announce similar M2M partnerships with other operators to expand their M2M business reach for its customers.