Vodacom sees money in machines
The mobile operator has ramped up its machine-to-machine business in anticipation of strong growth in the number of connected devices. By Craig Wilson.
Vodacom has launched a new “global data service platform” (GDSP) for its machine-to-machine (M2M) communications business, allowing consumers to control Sim-based devices remotely from anywhere in the world.
Tony Smallwood, executive head of Vodacom’s indirect sales channel, says M2M will become more important as a growing number of devices become connected and companies and consumers move to embrace the “Internet of things”.
“What we’re starting to see is the birth of new industries and new organisations … largely driven by M2M communications,” he says.
M2M devices include products those that use shortwave frequencies and GSM signals. Smallwood says the M2M market is expected to grow to 2bn devices by 2020 driven, in part, by a reduction in the cost of hardware. “We’re starting to see Huawei and other Chinese manufacturers driving down the cost per unit.”
GSM devices are growing quickest, according to Smallwood, because the technology is a “bit less complex than shortwave devices”. GSM products are “easier in terms of the push and pull of data”.
M2M offerings need to be sold separately from regular GSM solutions and also managed separately, Smallwood says. One of the benefits of this separation is that Vodacom needn’t have a direct presence in a country to offer M2M products but can instead partner with other operators that may not offer these solutions themselves.
Vodacom M2M portfolio manager Simon Churches says the operator’s new GDSP supports global Sim cards, which means they can be managed from anywhere.
“For GDSP, that data or Sim breaks out of the core network infrastructure and is routed to a GDSP network in Europe,” Churches says. Users can manage their Sims using a Web-based interface or an application programming interface.
Vodacom and parent Vodafone have extensive roaming agreements in the US and Asia for intercontinental device management. But Churches says the company has fewer roaming arrangements for the GDSP in sub-Saharan Africa and is working to rectify this.
Users can opt for a traditional Sim, a more rugged version of the traditional Sim, or a chip Sim — a Sim that is soldered to the circuit board of a device directly making it more difficult to remove, reducing fraud. — (c) 2013 NewsCentral Media