Aug 1, 2012

Competitive dynamics of international M2M alliances

This note will be updated in light of new alliance announcements. 

In July of 2012, seven mobile operators announced a cooperation agreement featuring a unique SIM. This appears to be a move to address a segment of customers seeking to deploy global connected devices and to compete with Vodafone's global SIM offering. However, there are other competitive dynamics at play and longer term corporate strategy implications for companies that are using partnering approaches as a rapid means of market entry.

The SIM offering from the alliance of seven operators - KPN, NTT Docomo, Rogers, SingTel, Telefonica Digital, Telstra and Vimpelcom - is to be supported via a united web interface and centralized monitoring via the Jasper Wireless platform. Interestingly, Jasper appears to be positioned as a supplier to the alliance indicating that alliance members will be the customer-facing entity (the middle 'B') in a B2B2B type of business model.

Jasper's role may also be a consequence of its strategy to enter into geographically exclusive arrangements. For example, in the US market, it's exclusive agreement with AT&T would prevent it from working with any one of the other local MNOs.

As shown below, when Jasper contracts with an MNO, this is typically on a country level basis. For example, it supports Telefonica in Spain, Ireland and the UK; it has not advertised its presence in Germany with Telefonica where Jasper is contracted to another MNO, ePlus (a subsidiary of KPN).

The global ambitions of the group of seven are interesting in three other respects. Firstly, AT&T is not a part of the group which suggests that it aims to pursue an international strategy of its own. Secondly, the alliance of operators appears to be dependent on Rogers and its cross-border reach from Canada to cover North America. Thirdly, Telefonica's participation in the alliance is through its newly formed Digital arm which does align with a Group-level perspective that potential clients will be looking for. This could present a customer management dilemma for the local country operator if a UK company, for example, wanted to deploy a global solution.

The illustration above shows other alliances of note including the Global M2M Association. This involves Deutsche Telekom, Orange and Telia Sonera [1]. Not shown in this illustration are the non-European footprints of Deutsche Telekom and Orange which are reportedly marketed through the Wholesale arm of their UK joint-venture, Everything Everywhere.

After acquiring Telenor's platform in 2011, Ericsson has succeeded in acquiring several MNO partners, primarily in Europe. In light of its infrastructure provider role, additional MNOs are likely to adopt its Device Connection Platform.

The illustration also highlights bi-lateral arrangements that allow Orange and Sprint to offer a trans-Atlantic offering. This looks to be positioned as a challenger to a Verizon/Vodafone combination although Verizon has pioneered multi-mode modem solutions and could go it alone.

On the topic of Vodafone, its international footprint is offered via a dedicated M2M business unit and in-house M2M platform which reaches over the company's 21 country MNOs. Vodafone can also support M2M applications   in its numerous partner markets.

Finally, the commercial world is not the only arena of M2M activity with a group of international standards bodies, listed on the far right hand side of the illustration above, agreeing to cooperate on global M2M standards.

[1] Telecom Italia joined the Global M2M Association in June 2013


  1. Hi, very interesting. I'm wondering what kind of portal and alliance a canadien telco should choose if Rogers is with Jasper.

  2. 16 Dec 2014 update

    First fruits from the alliance of international standards bodies in the form of the oneM2M specification which has been embraced by two mobile operators from South Korea.

    South Korean operators SK Telecom (SKT) and LG U+ will make the first commercial Internet of Things (IoT) deployments based on specifications from oneM2M, a group formed by a number of standards bodies and intended to deliver a scalable and interoperable machine-to-machine framework.

  3. 18 February 2015 update

    Ericsson and the Global M2M Association (GMA), a cooperation of six international tier-one operators (Deutsche Telekom, Orange, TeliaSonera, Telecom Italia Mobile, Bell Canada and SoftBank) in the Machine-to-Machine (M2M) market, will showcase their revolutionary new Multi-Domestic Service at Mobile World Congress 2015. The solution has been implemented already by Orange, TeliaSonera and Bell Canada.

    The GMA operators have chosen Ericsson's DCP to harness its unique multi-domestic capabilities and to demonstrate a global converged solution to their customers.

  4. 13 May 2015

    Zain Group and Vodafone have expanded their partner market agreement to deliver Machine-To-Machine (M2M) services to Enterprise and Government sectors in the Middle East.

  5. 13 August 2019 update

    Software AG is also working with its various telco customers in an informal sharing community, to bring best practice and know-how to their IoT setups. Deutsche Telekom in Germany and Telstra in Australia have both stopped work with other IoT platform providers, including the large cloud providers, in recent months to continue exclusively with Software AG’s Cumulocity IoT platform, going from three-to-one and two-to-one respectively.

    The company is working with “close to 20” mobile operators, taking the Cumulocity IoT platform as a white-label service. These include Deutsche Telekom in Germany, KPN in the Netherlands, A1 in Austria, Telstra in Australia, NTT in Japan, and Saudi Telecom in Saudi Arabia. It is still targeting a deal with AT&T in the US. It says it may look to organise its operator clients into a “loose club”, without the legal structure and governance that defines ADAMOS.

  6. 10 February 2022 update

    The case for IoT partnerships between operators and public cloud providers is strong for some services

    Both operators and PCPs are moving beyond their core businesses of connectivity and cloud compute, respectively, to develop services in other areas of the IoT value chain. This increases the risk of direct competition. The risks for operators are linked to four factors (investment, future options, differentiation, market position).

    We categorised operators’ collaborations with PCPs into six service areas:
    - IoT network (public)
    - IoT-to-cloud connectivity
    - IoT network (private)
    - Edge computing
    - IoT platform
    - Channel to market