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26 February 2015

Ericsson signs two M2M alliances for its Device Connection Platform

Ericsson is extending the reach of its Device Connection Platform (DCP), the heart of its IoT services strategy, with two deals with operator alliances. The platform will be adopted to support connectivity, security and device management by members of the Asia-centric Bridge Alliance of mobile carriers, and the Global M2M Association, a group of six tier one MNOs.

The Bridge Alliance was formed in 2004 to support roaming, common services and seamless connectivity among its members’ mobile networks, and reduce cost and risk via shared back end platforms. At the start of 2014, an 11-strong subset of its participants created the Bridge M2M Alliance, to do the same for their IoT services. Now many of the activities of the two groups have merged, and Ericsson’s IoT-related deal is with the parent alliance, which has 36 members, mainly in Asia-Pacific, but also in the Middle East and Africa (through Airtel’s African subsidiaries plus Viva and STC in the Middle East.

The Ericsson platform aims to lower the barriers to entry into IoT services for device OEMs and service providers, helping them launch their offerings in any of the 36 countries covered, with common end user experience and back end management. They can tap into a single global SIM card and common business processes and roaming/billing mechanisms.

Alessandro Adriani, CEO of Bridge Alliance, said in a statement: “Offering this unified experience requires more than just harmonizing interfaces across mobile operators. We have done more with Ericsson, including standardizing our footprint on a common core network. This will truly guarantee harmonized sets of features and service levels within the footprint to our customers.”

The fragmentation of mobile networks is a major obstacle to global M2M deployments, which some analysts believe will be worth around $1 trillion by the end of 2016. The Alliance hopes to remove the complicated bilateral deals that businesses would have to negotiate with national operators in each country, and enable them to create multinational platforms and processes that can attract those offering IoT services and embedded devices.

The choice of DCP may be a blow to IoT platform provider Jasper Wireless, which has worked with many Bridge members such as Telkomsel in Indonesia and Optus in Australia, as well as NTT Docomo, AT&T, Tele2 and others.

Meanwhile, Ericsson’s DCP is also underpinning another operator consortium’s bid to create a cross-border platform to attract multinational enterprises and providers. The Global M2M Association (GMA) has six members – Deutsche Telekom, Orange, TeliaSonera, Telecom Italia Mobile, Bell Canada and SoftBank. Three of them (Orange, Telia and Bell) have implemented DCP individually already, and all six will demonstrate their unified platform, under the label Multi-Domestic Service, at MWC. This will support real time connectivity management, allowing enterprises to manage and monitor their connected device from a single source.

Hans Dahlberg, head of TeliaSonera Global M2M Services, said in a statement: “Multinational enterprises offering connected products to their global customer base are faced today with a key challenge: how to provide a seamless and easy-to-manage localized IoT solution for end users. The GMA’s Multi-Domestic Service solves this issue by delivering a single consolidated M2M management platform provided by Ericsson.”

The system also uses embedded SIM cards and subscription management software from Gemalto. The cards comply with the GSMA’s embedded SIM specifications and the project is one of the early real world manifestations of that initiative, which was kicked off in 2010 to support multiple operator profiles on a single SIM. The original goal was to have commercial roll-outs by 2012 but it took until 2014 for the first deployment, by AT&T with its Global SIM.