CeBIT: European operators urge M2M standardization, collaboration

European operators have called for greater progress on the development of “horizontal” M2M standards independent of the vertical industries they are addressing.

Speaking at this week’s M2M Zone Conference at the CeBIT tradeshow in Hannover, Jurgen Hase, the head of M2M for Deutsche Telekom (Bonn, Germany), warned operators that if they built up “silos”, as they have done in the past, they would fail.

“We need standards for different layers – not just connectivity,” he told attendees. “Otherwise this will not be scalable enough.”

European operators have called for greater progress on the development of “horizontal” M2M standards independent of the vertical industries they are addressing.

Speaking at this week’s M2M Zone Conference at the CeBIT tradeshow in Hannover, Jurgen Hase, the head of M2M for Deutsche Telekom (Bonn, Germany), warned operators that if they built up “silos”, as they have done in the past, they would fail.

“We need standards for different layers – not just connectivity,” he told attendees. “Otherwise this will not be scalable enough.”

Hase says Deutsche Telekom is working on the development of such standards while partnering with specialists in the various industries it is targeting.

The operator is a part of the M2M Service Alliance with Orange (Paris, France), TeliaSonera (Stockholm, Sweden), Everything Everywhere (Hatfield, UK) and Sprint (Overland Park, USA), and Hase cites collaborations with Itron (Liberty Lake, USA) and Maingate (Karlskrona, Sweden), two smart-metering specialists, as examples of its verticals partnership approach.

Deutsche Telekom also recently announced it would support a new M2M platform from Qualcomm (San Diego, USA) based on Java, which is currently used by around 9 million developers worldwide.

Hase’s comments received broad backing from Gert Pauwels, the M2M marketing director of Orange Business Services, who emphasized the importance of vertical standardization as well.

“Around 80% of the solution is horizontal, but the last 20% is extremely tailor-made to the segment, and we need standardization at both levels,” he said.

One challenge identified by Pauwels is ensuring that operators, utilities, carmakers and other types of organization addressing the M2M opportunity can understand one another’s businesses and objectives.

Operators also acknowledged the need to move beyond pure connectivity and play a bigger role in the M2M value chain as service providers.

According to Ansgar Schlautmann, a principal at management consultancy Arthur D. Little, operators can claim only 15–20% of the available M2M revenues in their traditional role, but another 30–40% as so-called M2M enablers.

Thomas Nicholls of M2M operator Sigfox (Toulouse, France) also lent his support to the standardization push. “It needs to work out of the box and not be related to specific applications,” he said on the subject of smart meters.

Starting in France, Sigfox is rolling out a global cellular network that is fully dedicated to supporting “low-throughput” M2M services.