Last month, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in Europe issued a report that examines the networking practicalities and tradeoffs involved in wide-scale M2M deployments, especially those that may grow to enhance economic and social development across the globe.
Since these issues echo many of the same challenges that KORE addresses day-to-day, we would be remiss to not offer our own impressions and takeaways.
All in all, the OECD report did a fairly masterful job of illustrating just how beneficial M2M could be, both in the public sector and as an economic driver in the private sector across a wide range of disciplines: applications like smart roadways, connected buildings, automated metering, smart parking and EV services for mobile energy management.
The report did not focus enough, however, on lingering questions regarding multinational and global deployment, which of course is where we at KORE are working to bridge the gaps. This issue primarily comes into play in the context of commercial imperatives that preclude permanent roaming by third-party carriers in another carrier’s country. Unfortunately, the report did not discuss how this challenge might be resolved.
The most important topic in the report involves spectrum availability and efficiency. We’ve done some fairly extensive market research and projections ourselves, and have come to the conclusion that every single M2M device in existence by 2016 could be supported with 5 mHz of spectrum on a 2G network. The problem, however, is that the carriers must play the slave to the smartphone, and the $80-per-month consumers that must be fed with ever faster services. In other words, the carrier community has no real incentive to keep 2G spectrum around, even a sliver as thin as 5 mHz.
Unfortunately, in the vast majority of cases, the only reason an M2M user would ever need to change from 2G to 3G is if the operator shuts down their 2G network. 3G devices are much more expensive to deploy: more costly at the device level, with higher power management costs, pricey device certification processes and of course—physical device replacements (often in remote or hard to reach areas)—from the tundra in Alaska to the tops of street lamps. Given the longer lifecycle and the thin-client nature of most M2M devices, the investment cost and level of effort required to change from 2G to 3G is significant.
In regulated markets that are pushing for adoption of M2M, a case could be made that carriers will be mandated to reserve space for 2G. This could take hold in couple of ways. Perhaps the US Government steps in to protect its investment in M2M-driven public services, or maybe groups that are already invested in large-scale M2M deployments—such as utility companies or logistics providers—will lobby to keep some 2G dedicated spectrum around. In either case, 2G could be publicly “shut down” but in fact continue operating in the background, unbeknownst to anyone except those running these specialized M2M services.
It is good that the report calls attention to these issues, but it did not come to many definitive conclusions or get into as much detail as it could have. Overall however, the OECD report contained a healthy balance of reality, optimism and caution, and we largely agree with the perspective it put forward.
Look here for a future discussion of some other key issues raised, such as security of M2M devices and global numbering schemes.
by Alex Brisbourne, President and COO
As the president and chief operating officer of KORE, Alex has over 20 years of experience in the networking and telecommunications industry, in Europe, North America and Asia. His expertise and areas of concentration center around wireless, enterprise and fixed line services. In his current role at KORE, he continually strives to improve company growth, by ensuring the M2M marketplace and KORE customers are well served by members of the KORE team worldwide.