Mobile operator Three has launched a cloud-based, machine-to-machine (M2M) platform for companies wanting to use its network to provide connectivity for smart meters, CCTV systems and other connected devices.
The platform, built on Ericsson technology, gives Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) partners complete control of those connections, monitored via a portal, Three Wholesale said in its announcement on Thursday. For example, they can start up and cut off connections, set up alerts, keep track of data usage and put a limit on that usage.
MVNOs use a carrier's network to provide their own branded voice and data services. By catering to those in the embedded connectivity market, Three Wholesale believes it will be able to tap into large numbers of end-customers in a relatively simple way.
"In the data and M2M space, it's actually quite simple," Richard Woodward, chief financial officer at Three, told ZDNet. "Tariffs are simple, connectivity is simple: it's about the network and the capability."
"The capacity is there; the spare seats are on the plane," he noted.
This access to higher-bandwidth services will allow MVNOs to deliver more-creative uses of M2M
, according to Woodward.
"The opportunity out there is potentially massive," he said. "If you just look at 2G M2M areas — about 95 percent of maybe three million SIMs out there are 2G, but it's Coke vending machines, it's smart metering. What you can do with high-bandwidth data is potentially extremely exciting."
One example is Lenovo and Dell laptops, which are beginning to be sold with Three SIMs installed. In this case, the hardware makers directly sell the data packages, rather than the operator.
"It's very interesting, because it gives us bigger reach into some very interesting niche markets, as well as pretty broad markets," Woodward noted.
He suggested publications like the Financial Times could use the service to include data connectivity with access to its online version, as part of a subscription.
"When you buy that, should you just get the data included? Or should you also have to have a data [plan]?" he asked. "They could bundle data into a service, sell it, and whether you have any credit on your pay-as-you-go or not, you could read your newspaper."