The Internet of Everything Chronicle #2
Our "teenager" is growing up rapidly and I believe we can call our baby grown up already within a year or two. A lot of announcements and news support my view including the "the world’s largest machine-to-machine (M2M) contract win to date": Telefonica's Smart Meter deal in UK worth €1.78bn over 15 years which was won in collaboration with the Swedish wireless mesh vendor Connode. The combination of mobile and wireless mesh in this solution brings me to the topic I will focus on in this Chronicle - networks for Internet of Everything.
The mobile industry early on claimed the M2M space based on a combination of a global wireless infrastructure, an industry with huge muscles and a need to find the next big growth area after reaching some 6,5 billion mobile connections in 20 years (GSMA). The previous wave of M2M used primarily the fixed phone network (POTS) and a wireless alternative is obviously better in many applications. After a far too early launch of mobile M2M some 10-15 years ago it came to life again when technology and networks were affordable and mature, and smart devices were there to visualize complex information on the go. Once again the mobile industry took the lead supported by Ericsson claiming 50 billion connected devices by 2020. Mobile operators formed M2M organizations and started working on building eco-systems and how to provide a service which potential customers of M2M wanted. The M2M business (i.e. M2M subscriptions) is growing with a healthy 30% or so and Berg Insight estimates the number of connected devices in mobile networks by the end of 2012 to 135M.
The mobile industry will for sure be important as things get connected to the Internet but I am convinced that we will see a whole range of connectivity being used, simply since the mobile networks were built for something else and primarily will become a WAN solution. Let me share a couple of examples of what we will see:
We have always ended up with Local Area Networks (LAN) and Wide Area Networks (WAN) simply since it makes a lot of sense to keep "in-house" traffic in-house to optimize use of expensive WAN connections and limit security exposures. A good example of this is Connode who teamed up with Telefonica in the UK deal above. There is a new wave of fiber-to-the-home installations and consolidation as well. Fiber is a really good option for WAN-connectivity for homes and businesses. DSL and cable are other obvious alternatives to 3G and LTE.
Apple introduced iBeacon in IOS7 which enables apps and small Bluetooth 4 (low power) communicating computers to connect and exchange information. A beacon sends information up to 50 meters which my apps can receive, interpret and act upon. This technology will be used in for example retail environments, hospitals, campuses and offices to interact with users of smartphones to give the users personalized and context aware information, offers, advice, etc. And app developers will buy these small and inexpensive beacons (Estimote sell three for 99$) to bring a new generation of innovative solutions to market. I believe iBeacon once and for all will prevent NFC (Near-Field Communication) from taking off.
Collecting information via connected sensors will improve processes, security, sustainability and enable new products, services and innovative business models. But many of the things we would like to connect need small, light, cheap and power efficient modems with low cost subscriptions. Think about fire alarms, bicycles and dogs. The only information we would need from them is "I'm alive", "I'm here" and "Now something happened". And a typical subscription would be something like 10-20€ per annum. Sigfox is well positioned to enable solutions like these globally.
Data is the gold of M2M and working with a specialist service enabler who can collect data from sensors and devices in different networks and distribute relevant information in different channels is the best way to leverage the Internet of Everything opportunity. Using a specialist service enabler will also make it quick to get going. And on that topic, I had 13 Swedish M2M Service Enabler companies with me at the most important M2M Event in Europe - M2M Summit in Düsseldorf. We had a joint booth and a handful of speaker and panel opportunities. And next week we will expand our Swedish M2M Service Enabler alliance again with at least two new members.
Today we have technology needed to solve almost all problems. The importance of that insight is that decision makers, not technicians, could and should own the M2M projects and start from their problems, challenges, opportunities and objectives. Taking that approach will make companies think out of the box, find new ways of doing things, move to adjacent markets, establish new partnerships and introduce innovative services and business models. That is the true power of Internet of Everything aka M2M.