M2M Alliance Event doubles attendance, highlights include tempered optimism

The premier vendor organization for machine-to-machine communications, the M2M Alliance, held its fourth annual Summit last week in Bergheim (near Cologne, Germany), and attendance doubled to close to 500 attendees, while the exhibitor list grew to over 30 companies from fewer than 15 last year. “The growth of the M2M Alliance Summit is one strong indicator of the strength of the M2M sector, both in Germany and abroad,” says Georg Steimel, the M2MA’s chairman, and newly appointed head of M2M solutions for equipment maker Huawei in Europe (Dusseldorf, Germany).


It’s fair to say that the M2M vendor community is very optimistic about growth prospects, as reflected in the growth of the conference, but it is wary of the predictions of hyper-growth offered by some industry analysts.“We would love to have the problem of 30% annual growth in M2M deployments, but it’s not a sure thing. Major vertical markets for M2M – like automotive telematics and Smart Grid for energy – show strong growth, but healthcare has developed more slowly than many expected,” says Thomas Nindl, Qualcomm’s Director of Business Development for Central Europe (Munich)


Some of the highlights of the M2M Summit included….


Telekom Austria forms new M2M subsidiary. The company chose the M2M event to announce its plans to provide specific M2M services to enterprise customers throughout its footprint of operations, and introduced the new managing director of the subsidiary, Bernd Liebscher. Telekom Austria (Vienna) currently operates networks in six eastern European countries, in addition to Liechtenstein and its own national market, and has roughly 500,000 SIM cards deployed in M2M applications.


Giesecke & Devriant sees new role in SIM subscriptions. As the number of embedded devices increases many fold, management of the SIM cards deployed becomes geometrically more complex. “There is a new role for SIM card manufacturers to play in managing subscriptions as a service for network operators,” says Dr. Klaus Vedder, the company’s SVP for mobile strategy, “and we at G&D [Munich] intend to step forward and assist our customers in playing this role.”


Intel to introduce new M2M carrier boards. The company (Granite Bay, California, USA) announced that it will be introducing a new line of M2M Reference Design boards, based on its Atom processor and it Computer-on-Module., before year’s end. The units will feature multiple wireless connectivity modes, including 2-4G cellular, WiFi, WiMAX, and Zigbee. “You can expect to see Intel putting its full weight behind increasing M2M awareness,” says Shawn Holiday, the company’s M2M program manager.


M2MA presents Best Practices Awards. In the “Innovation” category, for academic research in M2M technology, The Institute for Industrial IT (Lippe, Germany) for its work laboratory work in testing the robustness of proposed M2M solutions. Two winners in the industrial “Advantage” category were pump manufacturer Grundfos GmbH (Erkrath, Germany) for its work in managing production lines remotely, and Wireless Netcontrol (Hohen Neuendorf, Germany) for its new SpeedModem that eases packet transfer in a GPRS environment. As for the last three years, Telefonica Germany (Cologne, Gemrnay) sponsored the award sprogram.


5Million M2M SIMs for Vodafone, Deutsche Telekom. Podium discussions led the two European carrier giants to divulge the number of M2M SIM cards they currently have deployed – and it looks like they’re (approximately) tied at about 5 million SIMs each. “We’re just at the beginning of development, but future growth of the M2M sector will depend on network operators outfitting themselves with increased network capacity,” says Sven Krey, director of business-model development at DT’s M2M Competence Center (Bonn, Germany).


New Competitors for M2M Network Operators? One of the more interesting comments from the event came during the TA press conference, when the company’s new M2M chief Liebscher says, “In the future, we’ll have whole new classes of competitors to contend with in the M2M ecosystem, including energy and gas distributors that are managing their own networks.”

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