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26 February 2015

Telefonica and Tele2 extend M2M service offerings

Telefonica’s Business Solutions wing has expanded its Global Partner Program to Latin America. The M2M business platform will be extended to cover the region throughout 2015, and has clocked up a member count of 500 companies in the US and EU. Meanwhile, Tele2, a Nordic ISP with a significant M2M business, has announced that it will be providing 4G IoT solutions.

Firstly, Telefonica is saying its LatAm expansion is that final stage of its global rollout. Mexico and Peru have already seen deployments, and by the end of 2015 Telefonica says it will add Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Colombia too. The company says that the LatAm market is expected to grow at 20% CAGR, with up to 45m connections and $1.14bn in revenue by 2019.

While Telefonica’s experience undoubtedly lies in the network infrastructure and the issue of connecting devices, its Global Partner Program is an attempt to link the business in the combined M2M value chain.

Consequently, the 500+ companies it has so far brought into the program are looking to use a simplified channel network to boost Telefonica’s subscriber numbers on the back of increased collaboration between the range of module manufacturers, software businesses and cloud providers that have signed up so far.

Telefonica incentivizes the partners using its Global Price List, which includes contractual bulk discounts, incentive programs, promotions and rebates. The idea is that the program encourages partners to keep their business inhouse, giving them a competitive edge against outsiders in a market that appears to be warming up significantly.

Elsewhere, Tele2 (a European telco and M2M Platform-as-a-Service vendor) has followed up last month’s Sigfox connectivity addition by announcing that its M2M portfolio now includes 4G.

While cellular typically requires a more expensive set of device hardware and usually a higher monthly cost, it is still popular among developers because of its much higher bandwidth. While protocols such as Sigfox and LoRa provide low power consumption, the tradeoff is in their low bandwidth – measured in bits-per-second rather than Mbps.

Consequently, there is a strong demand for 3G and 4G connectivity among developers looking for a service that can transport high volumes of data (usually video, but often live operational data), and for whom the low power protocols are not suitable. The more risk-averse vendors may also opt for the established and familiar networking technology, rather than take (in their eyes) a risk on a newer technology.

Back in December, Tele2 signed a partnership agreement with Telit, which Rami Avidan (Tele2’s commercial director for M2M) explained is focused on pairing Telit’s expertise in hardware with Tele2’s experience in connectivity – with the end goal of creating the equivalent of a one-stop-shop for M2M players. Now this package includes 4G.