Japan’s SoftBank and Bell Canada join Global M2M Association

The Global M2M Association (GMA) has signed up two new members in the form of Japan’s SoftBank and Canada’s Bell, increasing overall membership of the organization to six operators in different parts of the world.

The addition of SoftBank (Tokyo, Japan) and Bell (Montreal, Canada) gives the GMA its first members with headquarters outside Europe and comes just five months after Telecom Italia became its fourth member.

The Global M2M Association (GMA) has signed up two new members in the form of Japan’s SoftBank and Canada’s Bell, increasing overall membership of the organization to six operators in different parts of the world.

The addition of SoftBank (Tokyo, Japan) and Bell (Montreal, Canada) gives the GMA its first members with headquarters outside Europe and comes just five months after Telecom Italia became its fourth member.

Deutsche Telekom (Bonn, Germany) and Orange (Paris, France) formed the association early 2011, with Scandinavia’s TeliaSonera (Stocholm, Sweden) joining in July of that year.

Deutsche Telekom says the goal of the GMA is to spur the development of M2M services.

By pooling their expertise and resources, operators involved in the GMA believe they can establish best practices, create economies of scale and fuel standardization efforts.

“We see demand for M2M solutions dramatically increasing as our customers in a variety of industries expand their services worldwide,” said Hiroshi Akabori, vice president at SoftBank. “We are extremely proud to now take part in the GMA’s efforts to further enhance and streamline M2M services for customers across the globe.”

The GMA has emerged as one of two big operator associations addressing the M2M opportunity, with the rival group including Etisalat (Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates), KPN (The Hague, Netherlands), NTT DoCoMo (Tokyo, Japan), Rogers Communications (Toronto, Canada), SingTel (Singapore), Telefonica (Madrid, Spain), Telstra (Melbourne, Australia) and VimpelCom (Amsterdam, Netherlands).

Nevertheless, the two associations differ sharply in their approach.

While the eight-operator alliance has developed around the M2M platform offered by Jasper Wireless (Mountain View, CA, USA), the GMA’s strategy is to remain technology-neutral.

Jurgen Hase, the head of Deutsche Telekom’s M2M Competence Center, has been highly critical of the rival group’s decision to tie itself to the Jasper Wireless product, saying this will limit its opportunities in the long term.

Judging by the GMA’s recent burst of momentum, other operators may be coming around to that way of thinking.

While the GMA has doubled its membership in the past six months, the Jasper Wireless-driven alliance has not attracted a new partner since February, when Etisalat was unveiled as the group’s eighth member.

Explaining its reasons for joining the GMA, Bell says membership will allow it to offer Canadian businesses access to international best practices, services and support in the M2M area.

“Bell is pleased to be the first Canadian wireless provider within the GMA, significantly expanding our footprint in markets around the world,” said Nauby Jacob, Bell Mobility’s vice president of products, services and content.