Three joins carrier rivals with M2M platform launch
Earlier this month Three UK’s Wholesale division Three Wholesale, which sells capacity to third-party carriers such as MVNOs, became the latest carrier to launch a cloud-based, machine-to-machine (M2M) platform designed to bring down setup costs and speed time to market for M2M. The decision by the operator to sign up Ericsson to provide the platform behind Three UK’s wholesale initiative is another coup for Ericsson in the M2M area, which recently signed up Megafon in Russia and TeliaSonera in Northern Europe. What is perhaps surprising is that the platform promises to enable MVNOs to launch M2M services in just two weeks: one always considers the lead-time to M2M deployment to be a particularly long one. Three Wholesale partners get their own branded portal, the ability to activate and deactivate their own connections, apply data caps and track data usage. And not only that, but Three appears to have several takers looking to set up and launch services before the end of 2012. The services that these undisclosed partners are expected to launch include remote CCTV cameras and automatic number plate recognition systems: not so good if you forget to renew your insurance but pretty harmless for most la- abiding readers. Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the deal, however, is the extent to which it shows how equipment suppliers like Ericsson have changed to meet the requirements of the market. Back in the day, Ericsson was a fixed-line vendor, providing infrastructure such as fibre optic cable and switching. With that market on the wane, Ericsson managed to carve itself a niche in the LTE market in the US, helped in part by the $1.1 billion acquisition of the local company Telcordia, which it completed in January this year. Telcordia, of course, has some heritage itself in the telecommunications market, as it was set up as a research arm of the Bell operating companies when the regional bell operating companies (RBOCs) were established in 1982. That was the time when the US monopoly that was Southwestern Bell Telephone Company was split up. Now that really was a different era.