On Tuesday, Sprint announced that it is partnering with Orange Business Services to provide global machine-to-machine (M2M) connectivity outside the U.S. Through the agreement, Sprint will expand its M2M reach to include Sprint-branded global M2M connectivity to 180 countries on Orange’s network.
In addition to expanding its international footprint, Sprint (Overland Park, Kan., USA) customers will also be provided with M2M-specific GSM SIM cards and a Web Portal for ordering and managing SIM cards from Orange Business Services,  the enterprise arm of France Telecom (Paris.)
Orange Business Services will deliver its global M2M connectivity service to Sprint through its International M2M Center (IMC) based in Brussels. Orange’s global network provides IP access in 220 countries and territories and supports more than 2.5 million active M2M connections, says Orange.
In speaking with multinational enterprise customers in the U.S., Sprint sees this partnership as a huge opportunity.
“I think we are living in more of a global society where it’s going to become more and more expected that the different kinds of machines that we interoperate and work with everyday are connected,” says Tom Nelson , senior manager of Sprint  Emerging Solutions Group.
According to ABI Research (Oyster Bay, N.Y., USA), there will be more than 106 million M2M connections globally, excluding the U.S., in 2012, growing to over 272 million M2M connections in 2016.
According to Nelson, industries were these connections are set to grow, especially internationally, are in the connected transportation and utilities industry. In the connected transportation market, specifically, Nelson sees enormous opportunity - whether coming off the manufacturer line or in after-market telematics .
“There are approximately a couple hundred million cars in the United States today,” says Nelson. “All of these vehicles are after-market opportunities to now put a wireless device into those and lighting those up.”
When expanded into an international market, the opportunities multiply, especially with the rise of safe driving applications to reduce distracted driving, as well as user-based insurance .
“We can give a company one single point of interface to work with to implement their M2M solutions internationally and we think that by simplifying the process that we can help take cost of out the area and allow faster deployment,” says Nelson.