Get ready for M2M

In a co-authored piece written for NME, Du’s Mahmoud Sherif (right), senior manager for wireless design and planning, and Hatem Bamatraf, senior VP for network development, explain why a new mobile market is going to change the wireless game.

Tags: Emirates Integrated Telecommunications Company United Arab Emirates
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Get ready for M2M Hatem Bamatraf. ()
By  Mahmoud Sherif , Hatem Bamatraf Published  December 16, 2010

Today, it is a real rarity to find someone who does not own a mobile phone. According to statistics, there is a 200% mobile saturation rate in the United Arab Emirates, and nine out of 10 Americans also own a cellular device, making the wireless market seem more saturated than a dripping wet sponge.

Therefore, faced with an ever limited pool of potential handset buyers, carriers and operators are turning their attention toward inanimate objects and, more specifically, toward the embedded space and the sci-fi sounding machine-to-machine (M2M) technology segment.

M2M allows both wireless and wired systems to communicate and exchange information with other devices using the machine language of telemetry. It uses a device (such as a sensor or metre) to capture an event (such as temperature or inventory level), which is relayed through a network (wireless, wired or hybrid) to an application (software programme) that translates the captured event into meaningful information (items that need to be restocked, for example).

Such communication was originally accomplished by a remote network of machines relaying information back to a central hub for analysis. That information would then be rerouted into a system like a personal computer.

Many businesses are finding that the technology is useful in terms of allowing for remote monitoring of operations via very low-maintenance device interconnectivity, allowing them to address service issues and restore functionality with little or no interruption to productivity.

Whereas M2M communication started out as one-to-one connection, it soon became a system of networks that transmits data to personal appliances and involves a central system that is able to connect with other systems at various locations. The connection allows the central — or “mother” — system to collect or send data to each independent remote location for processing.

The expansion of wireless networks across the world has made it far easier for M2M communication to take place and has lessened the amount of power and time necessary for information to be communicated between machines. These networks also allow an array of new business opportunities and connections between consumers and producers in terms of the products being sold.

In recent years, SMS has become an increasingly important transmission mechanism for M2M communication, with the ubiquity of GSM and the relatively low cost of SMS being cited as advantages.

A report from Juniper Research anticipates that the number of mobile connected M2M and embedded devices will increase to almost 412 million globally by 2014 — and that represents the tip of the iceberg of its future potential.

Mobile SIM cards have the potential to link up just about any object to the cellular networks. And though most will not have the revenue generating potential of a human mobile subscriber, ultimately the market will go far beyond the utility metres, buildings, cars and trucks that represent today’s first round of connected machines.

Some figures are already projecting that the market for M2M technology could boost US wireless penetration from the current 90% to a staggering 500% over the next few years, with M2M connections far outpacing handset buyers in a huge growth spurt for the telecomunications industry.

Indeed, at this rate there are going to be a lot more connections and a lot more customers in the emerging device space than there are today in the current space of mobility.

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