Vodafone is to launch a services platform for companies that want to deploy and manage large machine-to-machine projects.
The platform, announced on Tuesday, will support projects such as smart metering, remote monitoring and connected vehicles, in which machines need to 'talk' to each other. Such projects use mobile networks for their connectivity, and Vodafone said in a statement that its experience will help companies centrally manage the process of rolling out machine-to-machine (M2M) devices across many countries.
"The market for M2M smart services using intelligent devices is taking off, but in order for it to deliver its true potential, service providers... need to provide customers with managed connectivity that is reliable, cost effective and universal," Vodafone Global Enterprise chief Nick Jeffery said in a statement.
Vodafone already has more than 100 employees working on M2M across its operations in the UK, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands. Tuesday's announcement will see the staff and technology in those operations pulled together, in order to target multinational corporations in particular. The company also plans to allocate further staff, from its global enterprise business, to the unified M2M team.
The platform is designed to allow centralised management of M2M systems, including the activation, suspension and deactivation of devices. Vodafone will also offer services to help clients develop their M2M networks from the concept stage.
Current Vodafone M2M clients include Securitas in Spain and the UK, and TomTom in the Netherlands. Under the TomTom deal, Vodafone supplies the company's navigation devices with aggregated traffic-flow data.
Other operators targeting the same market include Telefonica and Orange Business Services, which set up an M2M centre in Brussels in May to support multinationals.
A spokesman for Vodafone would not supply a firm date for the platform's launch, but told ZDNet UK on Tuesday that it would first be rolled out across the UK, the Netherlands and Germany "over the coming months". Beyond that, the operator group intends to extend the platform across its other European operations, then potentially across its global partner networks.