Deutsche Telekom says it will announce more partners for its Global M2M Association (GMA) with France Telecom and TeliaSonera in the next two or three months.
Speaking to M2M Zone on the sidelines of last week’s M2M World Congress in London, Jurgen Hase, the head of Deutsche Telekom’s M2M Competence Center, said the new partners would help to expand the GMA’s footprint.
“We will announce some new partners from Europe in the next two or three months,” he said.
One of the first operator alliances in the M2M area, the GMA was formed by Deutsche Telekom (Bonn, Germany) and France Telecom (Paris, France) in early 2011, signing up Scandinavia’s TeliaSonera (Stockholm, Sweden) as a partner in July the same year.
Since then, however, the group’s membership has failed to grow, with the rival, unnamed alliance that uses a platform from Jasper Wireless (Mountain View, CA, USA) appearing to have greater momentum.
During February’s Mobile World Congress, Middle Eastern operator Etisalat (Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates) was unveiled as that group’s newest member, giving it eight operator partners in total.
But Hase believes the rival group is pursuing a deeply flawed strategy by constructing an alliance around a single platform.
“It’s not an open platform strategy and I think that will reduce its opportunities in the long term,” he argues. “The GMA strategy is more independent of platform technology because in the future there will be more than one.”
Presenting at the same conference, Angel David Garcia Barrio, Telefonica’s head of alliances and new business, described the international footprint of the Jasper Wireless-powered alliance as a key strength.
Besides Etisalat and Telefonica (Madrid, Spain), it includes KPN (The Hague, Netherlands) NTT DoCoMo (Tokyo, Japan), Rogers Communications (Toronto, Canada), SingTel (Singapore), Telstra (Melbourne, Australia) and VimpelCom (Amsterdam, Netherlands).
But news the GMA is to announce additional partners soon will boost confidence in the smaller group’s prospects.
It might also help Deutsche Telekom to realize some ambitious growth targets for its intelligent network solutions division, whose activities cover M2M areas such as smart metering, connected cars and telehealth.
Last year, Deutsche Telekom made about €100 million ($132 million) in revenues from intelligent network solutions, but the operator aims to boost sales to €1 billion in 2015.
Asked whether Deutsche Telekom was on track to achieve those targets, Hase said the important thing was that its Board had demonstrated a firm commitment to M2M.
“Everyone knows that M2M is more project-driven [than other operator activities] and you need to invest,” he says. “The revenues will come later.”
Indeed, for Deutsche Telekom, the last few months have been marked by a flurry of project activity on the M2M front, featuring deals with Itron (Liberty Lake, WA, USA) on smart meters, arviem (Baar, Switzerland) on cargo monitoring and IBM (Armonk, NY, USA) on smart cities – to name but a few.
Hase says the goal of the partnership with IBM is introduce the first commercial services later this year, noting that a ‘smart city’ is still some way off.
“Smart cities are about combining different services in areas like energy, security and monitoring, but you have to start with one application and then add others,” he says.
Having already recognized the importance of playing a managed-services role in M2M, and being more than just a connectivity provider, Deutsche Telekom is also making investments in big data analytics and security so that it can offer a more value-added service to its customers.
Hase says he is on the lookout for small companies providing real-time pattern analytics that could help T-Systems, the operator’s IT division, to enhance its M2M capabilities.