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M 2 M communication: Worldwide future prospects and potential impact

analysis in India
Aditya Mishra
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Aditya Mishra

There are good reasons for the widespread misuse of the term: The biggest reason is the application diversity.e. according to an estimate. back-end server. intelligent remote control of machine parts) to telemetry (i.M 2 M communication: Worldwide future prospects and potential impact analysis in India A lot has been said and written about M2M communication over the last few years. remote reading of the electric meters). M2M leads to different types of machines being nodes of personal wireless networks. more devices will be connected to the Internet than human beings!1 So. 1 The Internet of Things How the Next Evolution of the Internet Is Changing Everything. as these sectors will be able to minimize wastage and by take advantage of off-peak tariffs. access and radio networks. CISCO . the least it will do is it will reduce the bill amount we pay for electricity. and includes innovative channels from telematics (i. Its scope is so big because it not only covers smart devices having an IP address but even links passive objects on the network. This will lead to machines being more autonomous and smarter and will decrease the cost incurred due to involvement of human resource. thus making the prior knowledge antiquated. Besides. by 2020. What actually is M2M all about? The term M2M has been the “Buzzword” across different sectors and industries around the world over the last few years. to understand its potential impact. Unfortunately. what are the benefits? Importance of this term depends on the perspective of the user. valve etc) using network resources (can comprise of core telecom network. and to clear the misconceptions surrounding the acronym. The idea behind this paper is to present the concept in a lucid and compact manner. it has also been one of the most misunderstood and misused term. M2M can be defined in simple terms as . or of the surrounding environment. Thus. and a gateway) to communicate with remote application infrastructure for the purposes of monitoring and control. meter. Its acronym is “Machine to Machine”. “Machines” (can be a sensor. using M2M communication.e. thus it becomes very difficult to formulate an identity that is acceptable and applicable across all contexts. and allows remote applications to be developed. The M2M communication spectrum is very wide. but it hardly explains the unexplored sea of communication concept that this term actually represents. either of the “machine” itself. gas and water. It is applicable to almost all sectors. But for a layman. the term is evolving at such a fast pace that it is virtually impossible to keep up with the latest developments. it is said that M2M creates an intelligent inter-machine co-ordination ecosystem. In fact.

In fact. the energy obtained is used to send a signal and perform some task. This will not just help in retaining the customer but will also bring down the cost of ownership of the refrigerator. Besides. tire pressure etc can be made available to the driver well in advance! Which all fields will it touch and what differences will it make? Let us take a look at some of the potential applications in Indian scenario across different industries: Automotive: Car infotainment. Let us take an example of a refrigerator manufacturer. GPS asset tracking. let us take another interesting example could of a car leasing company. An end customer may not want to talk to the refrigerator but the manufacturer can get great insights about the customer behavior with reference to refrigerator. It is a technology that harvests the necessary power from the locality. but are amazingly rewarding on other. like turning on a fan switch. fuel consumption tracking. “Energy Harvesting” is another interesting application to look at. electricity consumption and can directly give output by connecting to an in-house display. Buildings & Homes: We may soon be living in Smart homes which will be able to calculate. and reward from the benefits that it offers in the long run. Smart meters can be used inside homes to monitor the gas. fleet management services. This can be a real cost saver! Smart Energy: This sector will be as large as $150-180 billion worldwide in next three years 2. Challenge comes from the complexity of the value chain. Thus. insights about performance of the refrigerator and to get an idea of potential wear and tear which will help them notify customers when the refrigerator need a service. cargo management will all be very common words in years to come. different information about the car like engine oil change. for example the usage pattern of consumers that will help in making the refrigerator more user friendly. estimate and even control energy consumption and closely follow the home health. water. Using M2M. 2 Global Smart Energy Meter Market 2011-2015. We strongly believe that the immediate benefits of M2M will be available to businesses and end customer will benefit in long run.The M2M prospects are extremely challenging on one hand. Combining this solution with wireless switches and wireless sensors can simplify the building cablings. malfunction information. and LBS applications are becoming more and more popular with modern cars in India today. TechNavio's analysts forecast report . Telematics. a big portion of cost comes from electronic equipment and gadgetry. This will improve consumer awareness and will lead to consumer control on the energy bills. Another interesting potential application is a pay-as-you-drive solution that is being used by some European firms in the insurance sector. For automotive firms. Smart energy meters will also be used as a gateway for tomorrow’s network homes. To elaborate.

online vending machines etc. which can be recorded and transmitted from the patient’s house or on mobile devices. Digital Billboards are other areas of application of M2M solutions. They are not just more efficient. and M2M offers the fast and simple solutions. Security. to better handle the complex routing and networking solutions. and you can easily see the huge impact of M2M on this sector.Its working is very simple. and many medical equipment manufacturers are already venturing into this space. this can be much more efficient than the current system. In fact. where data was sent from machines to PCs over Ethernet LANs! Transportation: Fleet management was one of the few sectors that adopted M2M very early . . and on the factory floor. real-time traffic monitoring. Agriculture. where it can be displayed on a screen in form of a map. Industrial and Infrastructure: A whole new range of solutions and services has been developed in Industrial & Infrastructure sectors too. Wireless card payment transactions may soon be available to taxi.Health Care: Patient-premise solutions will drive the future of healthcare industry in coming years. etc. Thus. where the patient visits doctor periodically. intelligence and robust remote management tools facilitate quick and easy deployment of primary as well as back-up solutions. it is said that the concept of M2M started with wired network. ferry and ice cream van and other on-the move players. Besides. These mobile health solutions make it possible to observe daily living. Add to it the facilities like parking meters. Most retail players are today looking for the ways out to manage mobile card payment transactions in a secure way. like weather & seismic sensor measurement. Intelligent gateways and routers are been developed for M2M applications. yet innovative: GPS terminals embedded in the vehicles find out the location and the data is transmitted over a cellular network to a hub. which can help doctors to act quickly. Networks: High-speed cellular networks are fast replacing the wireline networks for enterprises. Retail: The ability to be able to manage mobile card payment transactions in a fast and secure way is becoming vital for many players in the retail sector. whose needs are consistently changing and quick and flexible deployment of resources to temporary offices and remote locations have become an integral component of the business today. The service definition has become much broader today and new features like broadband access and vehicle diagnostics has been added to the portfolio of M2M offerings. and for short time span only. but also cost effective. to name a few. Besides. remote video monitoring.

i. In fact the existing telecom infrastructure is already in sync with M2M requirements to a large extend. the installation and subscription charges. vendors and System integrators will together build a scalable infrastructure to leverage M2M potential. OSS/BSS Integration across the technology nodes. Intel. Vodafone etc. The major benefit for the carriers will be in form of recurring network usage cost i. Network Services and Testing. controlled. As discussed earlier. . complimenting the niche technology skills necessary for the M2M business. Typically. and depends largely upon what needs to be recorded. communication and value added services. which acts as communication medium for transmission of the measured data. like Electrolux. each stakeholder will assume different level of responsibility. NSN. The embedded chipset technologies will lead to cellular connectivity and home area connectivity. business models and services.e. or reported. Thus the ecosystem needs strong partnerships and alliances for M2M to achieve its true potential. each M2M solution is unique. The cellular network operators. Besides. Given the current status of telecom industry worldwide and the prospects that M2M present with. carriers will play an integral role in building data models. Tejas. deploying the service and providing service to end device. develop. Depending on the use case. Carriers.So. visualize. Thus. an M2M solution will comprise of following stakeholders:      Network infrastructure firms like Ericsson. and each of them need to come together to formulate and foster a solution from the scratch. Product lifecycle management. we can say that M2M holds potential to revive the operating models for carriers as well as for the infrastructure firms and CPE manufacturers. IBM. Dax Networks etc Middleware solutions companies which act as industry-specific application software or solution providers. Huawei etc Semiconductor & Hardware companies that provide the customer premise equipments (CPEs) and platforms from where data is captured. software. IT firms will play an important role in Development. Motorola. Technology transformation.e. corrected. define its scope. who all are the stakeholders? The perfect M2M solution will need to have a right mix of hardware. Middleware firms will work on many fronts to enable the Internet of Everything and pave the way for new types of connected products. like Airtel. test. maintain and sustain the solution. Qualcomm etc. there are many stakeholders. like Honeywell. System integrators that will have IT domain expertise to keep the entire process under one umbrella like TCS.

Fig1. M2M Ecosystem Let us take a look at how a generic M2M value chain may look like: .

 Network Equipment Development: This module involves the design and development of network equipment. & needs intellectual capital to be developed.  Network Equipment Integration: It comprises of the provisioning of integrated network solutions to network operators.Fig 2: M2M Value Chain This is the generic value chain for an M2M solution. This is often outsourced too. The roles played by different players will vary according to the solution requirements. The blocks have been explained below:  Application Design: This module is taken up by software firms and comprises of the initial phase of the software life cycle.  Consumer Electronics (CE) Device Development: This module involves the design and development of CE devices. It also includes backbone provision.  Application Provision: This module will involve delivery and sales of software to specific market segments and also the technical support.  Mobile Access Provision: This module includes providing access of the network to the customers. but the players will remain the same. last-mile provision and broadband access provision.  Application Hosting: This block involves hosting the software code and the data needed for running the application. .

to make the smart grid system possible. Carriers: They give wireless connectivity to utility devices. they integrate or bundle the devices and the network together. Device OEMs: These OEMs integrate the cellular modules with the smart grid devices like meters. gateways. concentrators etc. They also provide the interface to work with multiple carriers. To elaborate further. memory. Cellular module OEMs: They play an important role of integrating the chips into the module. GPS etc. modem. let us take an industry-specific example of Smart Grid communication and understand how each player in the value chain plays its role in enabling an end-to-end M2M solution: Figure 3: Smart Grid Communication Value Chain Let us take a look at the key entities involved in Smart Grid Communication value chain:      Chip manufacturers: These companies are involved in manufacturing of building blocks like processors. . CE Device Marketing: This involves bringing to market consumer electronics devices to be used by consumers to interact with applications. Utility: Finally.

Some of the models that can be used are the transaction-based model charging on basis of extent of usage or a package-based model (a fixed payment at regular intervals) or a model where the M2M earnings can be shared between the user and the provider. telcos in India are struggling to boost their existing infrastructure. it would be a good idea for the operators to establish network-sharing partnerships. Mobile M2M is just an emerging service in its nascent stage. GSMA Report Mobile M2M Market in India.What is in it for the Indian Cellular Operators? According to a recent survey. by year 2014-15.97% of projected total mobile VAS revenues in India 4. to minimize the cost associated with providing M2M services. especially in remote areas. mobile M2M data revenues will contribute to about 5. But precursor to success of M2M in India would be fair and well designed revenue models. Mahindra Reva partnered with Vodafone to power its electric cars with M2M communication services. Taking about India. and very few operators have tried their hands on this front so far. We firmly believe that M2M will drive unparalleled amount of data traffic in coming years. There are several reasons for this. Moreover. one of them is lack of M2M strategy from cellular operators in these countries. with steps like 3 4 The Other M2M Opportunity: Enhanced Utility Access in Emerging Markets. control air conditioning and get emergency boost charge. M2M will present them with a tremendous business opportunity in terms of monitoring and tracking individual base stations. But according to an estimate from Tonse Telecom. A recent example of emerging business opportunity for Indian operators is the VodafoneMahindra tie-up. As part of Green VAS & M2M Rural Internet Plan. The company is exploring the M2M business opportunities in rural India. as 4G technologies is necessary to manage the large number of M2M devices coming online. Tonse Telecom . Moreover. Another name worth mentioning in this space is Reliance Communications. with which users can remotely lock their car. Users can control different aspects of their vehicle and get information about battery back-up. with emergence of new technologies. LTE connectivity will also play very important role in the future of M2M communications.5% of total M2M deployment3. which will create new revenue streams for bleeding cellular operators in India. This is a unique partnership. first on this type in India. charging locations etc using an app available on their smartphone. and gives a fair indication of how M2M can present unseen business opportunities for telcos in India. developing countries account for only about 1. lock control. the company is planning rural deployment of M2M technologies.

the eco-system has begun to grow. in Bangalore. The system uses Loop SIM card. building the use case models. Undoubtedly. Bangalore Electricity Supply Company Limited is planning to install smart prepaid meters for about 8 million customers. Rather. terminal management application and portal etc. and other industries like health. water level monitoring. What are the challenges confronting the concept? As one would expect. CPEs. and the drive from the security and healthcare sectors. and are exploring different business models and first mover’s market entry strategies. and data gathering for milk & cooperatives. and improve logistics and transportation efficiency. subscriber management. with help of NDPL (New Delhi Power Limited). Reliance Infrastructure recently came up with advanced metering solutions that aims to connect households with main electricity supply units. etc. IBM is working with Tata power to achieve digital automation of smart energy based solutions. In Rajasthan.e. The carriers will also play integral role in form of providing access to terminals. fisheries. reduce power losses. Many other solutions are running in pilot phase while some operators like Airtel and Vodafone are evaluating solution readiness and end to end SLA management. i. in last couple of years. there are certain practical concerns confronting the M2M industry today. poultry.automation of agriculture & Irrigation services. agriculture and transportation. trying to real-time monitor and control the power of street lights based on GPRS solution. Few other initiatives in India so far: Loop Mobile came up with “Dial an auto” service in Mumbai that provisions M2M module in rickshaws to track them. Bharti Airtel came up with “Street Light Automation” service. which the industry needs to overcome before realizing its true potential. . they will be the centre point in the entire process of delivering a complete M2M solution. Few operators are also exploring opportunities in cloud based data analytics solutions. driven by various factors like the requirement from the inefficient state electricity boards (SEBs). the drivers in India will be to improve processes. Similarly. We believe that the compliance and regulatory aspects won’t be the drivers of M2M in India like they have been in many countries.

Security Most of the platforms used for M2M applications are proprietary. and will not be easily accessible. Also. especially because of the diversity in the application and players involved like devices. This will make the investigation cost much higher. security assumes even more importance if we consider the fact that M2M will involve utility and healthcare 5 IDC Report. there is no single standards body which is moderating and controlling the standardization. Besides. thus making them vulnerable to viruses and worms. M2M deployments do not have the valuable input of traditional communications networks. CCSA etc. each industry is trying to come up with its own idea on standardization. the acceptance of industry specific standards will gain momentum in couple of years. We can surely expect some consolidation on this front and undoubtedly. networks. smartphone market has picked up rapidly in India (right now they comprise of 8-10% of total mobile phone shipments5) and they will drive the M2M growth in future. some of the M2M devices will be placed at remote location. But we have reached the point where we urgently need for the basic level of standardization acceptable to all parties. Security still remains an area of concern for M2M solutions though. which involves very less coding. TIA . and lots of effort will be required to inflict even small damage on such systems. still. when M2M solutions and data generated from it will become an integral component of corporate MIS. as of now. Q4 2013 . However there is no blueprint for this as of now. ZigBee Alliance. Although it is a well accepted fact.Standardization The need for standardization and Interoperability within various smart devices is of paramount importance here. Besides. ETSI. If we talk about the B2C scenario. Moreover. security will surely assume much more importance. But many organizations across the globe have taken pro-active steps to come up with the their own standards like DASH7 Alliance. and makes hacking a difficult task. They have an open OS. The problem of standardization is mostly coming from the device manufacturers. HomePlug Alliance. in which human subscribers quickly alert the carrier to suspicious activity. Besides. We believe that the evolving roles of different players in the M2M eco-system will change the focus point of M2M solutions. use of VPNs and lack of too much memory used makes the solutions security robust. European Smart Metering Industry Group (ESMG) and HomePNA Alliance are couple of examples. In 3-4 years from now. as each of them may use their own technology for data collection and one-size-fits-all kind of a standard is hard to come up with. industries and geographical locations.

the marriage of M2M & Cloud-computing is unavoidable according to us. For example. and proper data collection format will assume even more importance. high dependence on 3G/4G . the data coming via sensors from different appliances will be needed to be stored at one central location. with different sets of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for each industry or sector. frames captured per hour in a live video stream feeding may be the KPI. The reason is easy to see: M2M solution will mostly end up having a central storage. we can’t keep the BI and Analytics aspects out of the picture. and new solutions will come up. it will throw new and never seen before challenges as well as opportunities for the analytics industry. That is where cloud-based solutions will score over all other options like on-premise storage as it is always accessible. Growth drivers and challenges in India: Apart from the above mentioned challenges. it may be the estimated energy savings. Despite these challenges. Later. Analytics & BI Data coming out of M2M solutions will be huge. We don’t have a fixed format and structure of data collection right now. A good segment to look at is rural India. and the potential risk of failure. congestion of mobile networks. Thus analytics software market needs to be in a very strong position. Data Collection & Storage When we come up with smart homes. M2M can lead to better . as has been discussed over the years. But still. The only issue with cloud based solutions. Very high/ Prohibitive cost aspects for deployment . while for power management system. As explored by Reliance communication. M2M holds tremendous potential for India. Thus. which involve critical information which can present a serious threat to our daily lives. for security systems.connections. in rural India. some of the significant hurdles to the growth of M2M in India are: Limited knowledge and experience of M2M among end users and customers . In fact. cost efficient as well as scalable. is the security concern. and many solutions will need real-time action based on the data achieved. which could be a bottleneck in long run. which might not be the case in India as of now. real-time invigilation will come into picture which will require transmission of audio and video files and images too. As far as storage is concerned. the benefits offered by cloud to M2M solutions far overshadow the disadvantages.

the national identification number can be used to improve both transparency as well as utilization of financial benefits being provided to the rural masses. Aadhar. Stellapps Technologies built the SmartMoo automated cow-milking app with the aim to reduce wastage. such as SMS to provide weather updates and wholesale crop prices to farmers. It works in conjunction with Tata Teleservices phones. government regulations. One M2M application that have gained popularity in rural India are Nano Ganesh. Coupled with M2M. This is a public-private initiative established by the government's Department of Information Technology in partnership with the Indian telecom industry. This will automatically lead to more private sector participation and involvement. Projects such as Aadhaar will give further impetus. The establishment of research institutes such as the Centre of Excellence in Wireless Technology. and this is expected to create high demand for M2M modules in the country.utilization of scarce resources like water & energy. The bigger boost to the industry could be the government launching a few M2M initiatives and showcase their success. But more needs to be done in terms of supporting new M2M initiatives by private players. improvement in GPRS and 3G connectivity and the priceperformance trade-off will drive the M2M market in years to come. Government will have a major role to play. Microfinance & financial inclusion programs. decline in hardware cost. There are many other apps like SmartMoo and Silent Observer. which lets farmers use phones to monitor and switch on irrigation pumps in remote locations. as is already evident in initiatives like Bangalore Electricity Supply Company Limited (BESCOM) metering initiatives. Some services have already been launched. Energy sector is a good example where M2M modules are used to capture readings from energy meters. logistics . need for new business models and innovation. We believe that in India. While the prospects for such systems are good. Such solutions will provide rural masses with more personalized real-time information and help them take better decisions. Besides. the need for process control will drive growth in retail sector for product tracking. they need proper support and backing up by the government. The Indian government is mandating the deployment of digitized energy meters to minimize power loss and theft. eg. R-APDRP (Restructured-Accelerated Power Development and Reform Program). etc. The government is taking initiatives on its part. and provide well planned healthcare and education services to rural population through remotely managed applications.

in a nutshell: Given the current state of telecom industry in India. India will become a huge market for M2M devices. as it holds the potential to increase ARPUs and reduce the subscriber churn. The stakes are huge. healthcare applications. But the telecom operators need to take a more pro-active approach toward M2M. and the vertical applications take off. as well as solution providers and consultants in the M2M space need to come together. the transition to data era is inevitable. surveillance needs and POS based applications will drive the growth of M2M communication in future. the need for tracking of goods movement. So. In years to follow. . in transportation sector for traffic management (video & surveillance) & for fleet management. Assuming that the data services will be steadily available in sufficient amount. and the industries are all geared up to embrace the concept and explore the huge opportunities. Global players like Vodafone and Telefonica are already focusing on it as a big opportunity. the value chain is extremely complex and disjointed. The government. traffic will come from “Things” more than from “Human”. While initially the demand will be driven by B2B customers. telcos. power distribution & transmission losses. the IPv6 standardization will open up new avenues in terms of allowing countless number of devices to be seamlessly Besides. aptly aided by government initiatives. process improvement.

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