M2M MVNO Update: Going Up the Value Chain
March 13, 2014 Leave a comment
- Back in the olden days (2000-2007), there were close to a dozen M2M connectivity aggregators that were the primary companies selling M2M connectivity to businesses.
- The market has changed substantially, with the mobile operators selling mostly direct, but many of the original set of MVNOs are alive and well and going way beyond connectivity to stay relevant.
When M2M first became a recognized market for cellular connectivity in the early 2000s, operators saw it as a wholesale opportunity, letting MVNOs sell to business customers, especially for small-to-mid-sized deals. In those days, the primary use cases were sensor data collection, machine automation, fleet management, home security monitoring and some cellular point-of-sale and ATM connections. Satellite service providers were also in the mix, collecting data from far flung or ‘hostile’ remote locations. In 2005, there were about a dozen cellular connectivity aggregators/MVNOs (several of which claimed from the beginning that since they owned their own network elements, they weren’t really MVNOs, but carriers, which is technically true). The big ones were Jasper Wireless (no longer an MVNO), Wyless, Aeris.net, RACO Wireless, Kore Telematics, Numerex, Orbcomm and Jazz Wireless.
Many of these companies developed their own well-regarded SDPs, but their primary job was to make life simpler for the business customer by providing multi-carrier connectivity via a single contract. Gradually, they also became experts in more vertical markets and not only sold to enterprises, but also started to offer their expertise to carriers. However, mobile operators started to realize that M2M was much more than a wholesale opportunity and began to sell direct to large customers, launching their own dedicated direct sales and product development groups for M2M. So, the MVNOs branched out: RACO acquired Position Logic and now offers global asset management as a service as well as connectivity from T-Mobile, Sprint, Telefonica, Rogers and EE. Kore sells pure network services across all cellular network technologies (and satellite) and has now added T-Mobile reseller Jazz to its connectivity options through acquisition. It is still the biggest reseller (with service in 170 countries including Australia and Japan) and so has held on to large global customers with a message of simplicity and 100% coverage. Wyless and Numerex have also expanded their value-added services and vertical specialization, as well as their coverage. If M2M progresses as many hope it will, these leading MVNOs will grow along with it, but they will have to continue to add value in areas where the operators can’t or won’t.