M2M Now recently covered an interview with Vodafone Head of Strategy and Business Development, Marc Sauter, discussing our latest bundled M2M services. By working with our partners we have the capability to become a one-stop shop for M2M terminals and managed connectivity on a single contract. This is a service unique to Vodafone and provides customers with a single point of contact for M2M applications.
There are four key benefits for the customer. This is a simplified supply chain, with one contract for everything globally. Second, we have pre-integrated and pre-tested the SIM card and solution. Third, this partnership offers simplified support and operations, with only one number to call if you need. Finally, Vodafone has a Test & Innovation Centre for all the M2M terminals that it sells. We check that it works seamlessly with Vodafone and partner networks.
The service covers all stages of the process from early concept development to support for national and multinational deployments of connectivity and terminals. In addition to service, customers benefit from having Vodafone's global M2M sim cards already inserted into M2M terminals. This results in lower costs and less need for technical input, allowing customers speed up their time-to-market. A broad range of terminals are available, ranging from entry level GPRS-based terminals with serial interface to high end, highly secured 3G-based devices with USB and Ethernet interfaces.
Vodafone has worked with several partners in order to provide this service. CalAmp, based in California, develops and markets wireless communications solutions that deliver data, voice and video. Their Wireless DataCom segment in particular supports M2M services for utility, government and enterprise customers.
Digi International, also based in the US, provides smart, full-featured UMTS/HSPA gateways and routers. They provide wireless products with high bandwidth demand for M2M services such as video surveillance, ATM/POS and remote office.
MC Technologies GmbH, based in Germany, offer M2M terminals for GPRS and SMS-based applications, such as remote maintenance and control of industrial applications like pumps and engines, and office applications including printer and copy machines. And finally, Sierra Wireless of Canada focuses on state-of-the-art M2M terminals, with products covering both market entry GPRS terminals and professional UMTS/HSPA terminals.
Discussing the service, Marc Sauter, Head of Business Development and Strategy at Vodafone M2M, said: "There are four key benefits for the customer. This is a simplified supply chain, with one contract for everything globally. Second, we have pre-integrated and pre-tested the SIM card and solution. Third, this partnership offers simplified support and operations, with only one number to call if you need. Finally, Vodafone has a Test & Innovation Centre for all the M2M terminals that it sells. We check that it works seamlessly with Vodafone and partner networks."
"We developed a global M2M connectivity solution a while ago, based on our core competency of providing communications solutions. But users also need hardware and middleware. The benefit for our customers is being able to deploy an M2M solution more cost-effectively. It's plug-and-play, reliable and single sourced. We integrate the M2M SIM card into the terminal, and we integrate with the Global Data Service Platform (GDSP) which includes IP address allocation and device monitoring," said Sauter.
The terminal automatically connects to the Vodafone network from its first activation, transmitting data to the back office. "We take away the cost and effort of integration. Our customers know how to build compressors, fork lift trucks, and air conditioning systems. They don't know so much about M2M systems."
Removing the need for customer intervention also increases service reliability. "We're the single source of this solution. You no longer need to go to a SIM card supplier, an M2M platform manufacturer, an integrator and a connectivity provider. There's a single Hot Line for support and responsibility for fixing any issues is clear, not blurred between different parties."
Cost saving is also significant. Every application is different, but what could previously take weeks to configure and integrate now be done in a day. An average savings of 10% in an M2M deployment budget could be expected.
The technology is being targeted at the industrial, remote maintenance and control sectors, in particular makes of compressors, elevators and fork lifts. The partnership will provide general purpose terminals, but work is under way to offer sector-specific terminals and solutions, for example to support smart metering or fleet management. There are expected to be launched in 2012.
Describing the technology which makes the bundles possible, Marc said: "We've developed a global managed service M2M roaming solution. We can use our M2M global SIM card. It's not associated with a national HLR (Home Location Register), it's part of our Global Data Service Platform, so we remove roaming from the M2M scenario. We're in a unique position to do this because we're in more than 50 countries with Vodafone and associate networks, such as in Belgium, Austria, France and Russia. So, we can offer a single price for M2M service access across Europe, regardless of the network."