EXCLUSIVE: Vodafone claims a first as it partners to launch pre-integrated global M2M bundles

Newbury, UK. 15 September, 2011 — Vodafone M2M is launching a new bundled service with its partners that aims to make life simpler for businesses wanting to take advantage of M2M services. Working with its partners, CalAmp Corporation, Digi International, MC Technologies and Sierra Wireless, the giant multinational wireless network operator will become a one-stop shop for M2M terminals and managed connectivity on a single contract. According to Vodafone, no-one else is doing this to date.

Vodafone will provide a single point of contact for customers to manage the complexities of M2M applications, from early concept development to support for national and multinational deployments of connectivity and terminals. By having one delivery of Vodafone’s global M2M SIM cards already inserted into M2M terminals, the partners are confident of reducing the cost and effort of integration for their customers.

M2M customers can, said the company, speed their time-to-market, receive M2M connectivity and terminals from a single supplier, and benefit from a single point of contact for support. With its partners Vodafone offers a broad range of M2M terminals addressing customer needs from market entry GPRS-based terminals with serial interface right up to high end, highly secured 3G-based devices with USB and Ethernet interfaces.

Vodafone has partnered with CalAmp Corp, Digi International, Sierra Wireless and MC Technologies. CalAmp of California develops and markets wireless communications solutions that deliver data, voice and video for critical networked communications and other applications. One of the company’s two business segments is Wireless DataCom, which supports M2M services for utility, government and enterprise customers.

US-based Digi International provides smart, full-featured UMTS/HSPA gateways and routers. Beside their products for fixed line solutions, Digi also offers a broad range of wireless products with high bandwidth demand to address M2M market segments like video surveillance, ATM/POS and remote office.

Germany’s MC Technologies GmbH is a well-known supplier of machine-to-machine application solutions. They offer M2M terminals for GPRS and SMS-based M2M applications, such as remote maintenance and control of industrial applications like pumps and engines, and office applications including printer and copy machines.

Sierra Wireless of Canada is a leading provider of M2M wireless modules and terminals. The company focuses on state-of-the-art M2M terminals and their products cover both market entry GPRS terminals and professional UMTS/HSPA terminals.

Speaking to M2M Now ahead of a formal announcement, Marc Sauter, Head of Strategy at Vodafone M2M (pictured), said: “There are four key benefits for the customer. This is a simplified supply chain, with one contract for everything globally. Second, we have pre-integrated and pre-tested the SIM card and solution. Third, this partnership offers simplified support and operations, with only one number to call if you need. Finally, Vodafone has a Test & Innovation Centre for all the M2M terminals that it sells. We check that it works seamlessly with Vodafone and partner networks.”

“We developed a global M2M connectivity solution a while ago, based on our core competency of providing communications solutions. But users also need hardware and middleware. The benefit for our customers is being able to deploy an M2M solution more cost-effectively. It’s plug-and-play, reliable and single sourced. We integrate the M2M SIM card into the terminal, and we integrate with the Global Data Service Platform (GDSP) which includes IP address allocation and device monitoring,” said Sauter.

Customers reportedly switch on the terminal and it automatically connects to the Vodafone network, transmitting data to the back office. “We take away the cost and effort of integration. Our customers know how to build compressors, fork lift trucks, and air conditioning systems. They don’t know so much about M2M systems.”

Asked by M2M Now if this would also increase service reliability, Sauter agreed because integration is under the control of Vodafone and it’s partners, not the customers. “We’re the single source of this solution. You no longer need to go to a SIM card supplier, an M2M platform manufacturer, an integrator and a connectivity provider. There’s a single Hot Line for support and responsibility for fixing any issues is clear, not blurred between different parties.”

So, how much time and money is saved with this new M2M bundle?

Sauter pointed out that every application is different, but what could take weeks to configure and integrate in the past can now be done in a day. Pressed on cost savings, he said that on average savings of 10% in an M2M deployment budget could be expected.

As to which markets are being targeted by the Vodafone, CalAmp, Digi, MC Technologies and Sierra Wireless partnership, the answer seems to be the industrial, remote maintenance and control sectors, in particular makers of compressors, elevators and fork lifts. The M2M partnership will provide general purpose terminals, but work is under way to offer sector-specific terminals and solutions, for example to support smart metering or fleet management. “This is on our roadmap.”

“When will these sector-specific terminals be launched?” asked M2M Now.

“In 2012,” said Sauter.

“There are many who doubt the existence of a viable single-operator global SIM today,” said M2M Now. “How do you respond?”

“We’ve developed a global managed service M2M roaming solution. We can use our M2M global SIM card. It’s not associated with a national HLR (Home Location Register), it’s part of our Global Data Service Platform, so we remove roaming from the M2M scenario. We’re in a unique position to do this because we’re in more than 50 countries with Vodafone and associate networks, such as in Belgium, Austria, France and Russia. So, we can offer a single price for M2M service access across Europe, regardless of the network,” Sauter concluded.


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