Telecom Italia has been unveiled as the newest member of the Global M2M Association, formed to spur development of M2M services internationally.
The Italian incumbent joins founder members Deutsche Telekom (Bonn, Germany) and Orange (Paris, France), which established the group in early 2011, plus Scandinavian operator TeliaSonera (Stockholm, Sweden), which became involved in July the same year.
“We are excited to enter into this cooperation agreement with three key players in Europe, enabling us to offer the most comprehensive M2M solutions across all sectors,” said Lucy Lombardi, the executive vice president of industry relations and cross-business initiatives at Telecom Italia (Milan, Italy). “The GMA demonstrates our collective commitment for continued collaboration in the interest of our customers and the M2M ecosystem.”
Speaking to M2M Zone at the M2M World Congress held in London in April, Jurgen Hase, the head of Deutsche Telekom’s M2M Competence Center, had revealed the GMA was due to sign up new European partners without providing further clues as to their identities.
Nevertheless, with KPN (The Hague, Netherlands), Telefonica (Madrid, Spain) and VimpelCom (Amsterdam, Netherlands) already members of the rival, unnamed M2M alliance that uses a platform from Jasper Wireless (Mountain View, CA, USA), the number of big European operators not aligned with an association is falling quickly.
Telenor Connexion (Stockholm, Sweden), a prominent player in the M2M area, also appears to have ruled out involvement in the partnerships.
“I think it’s just public relations,” said Gwenn Larsson, Telenor Connexion’s head of Americas, in a conversation with M2M Zone at the recent CTIA Wireless Show in Las Vegas. “We never feel the need to be in those alliances, although behind the scenes we are working with different companies.”
Unlike the M2M alliance – which also includes Etisalat (Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates), NTT DoCoMo (Tokyo, Japan), Rogers Communications (Toronto, Canada), SingTel (Singapore) and Telstra (Melbourne, Australia) – the GMA still lacks a partner based outside Europe, and its members have little presence in the Asian region.
Nevertheless, Hase has criticized the rival group for constructing an alliance around a single platform, arguing this will reduce its opportunities in the long term.
The GMA’s strategy, by contrast, is independent of platform technology.
“The M2M market is already moving quickly, with customers demanding harmonized service architectures without borders,” said Mario Polosa, director of the M2M Project Office at Telecom Italia. “We are firmly convinced that the GMA model is the best solution to consolidate and develop domestic and global opportunities together with our partners.”
Meanwhile, the recently formed International M2M Council – launched at the CTIA Wireless Show – brings together companies from different parts of the M2M value chain, including Deutsche Telekom, Digi International (Minnetonka, MN, USA), Kore Telematics (Alpharetta, GA, USA), Oracle (Redwood City, CA, USA), Orbcomm (Rochelle Park, NJ, USA) and Telit (London, UK).
“There’s clear evidence of good representation in most aspects of the value chain and when you bring players together big things can happen,” says Alex Brisbourne, the chief executive of Kore Telematics, who sits on the IMC’s founding board. “The IMC is going to demonstrate that there are real ROI models through saving money and in the context of being able to create new visions.”