Operators in the Arab world to expand M2M services

Diversifying revenue streams is mandatory for operators in the region
George Galica, of Vodafone Qatar says that the company has a global offering for M2M.
George Galica, of Vodafone Qatar says that the company has a global offering for M2M.

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By August 2014, 33 mobile operators offered Machine to Machine (M2M) services in the Arab World.

The most common M2M service offered by the operators is M2M SIMs, followed by Mobile Money and Tracking services, according to research by the Arab Advisors Group.

“The Arab Advisors Group’s research focused on a total of five M2M services in 15 Arab countries by August 2014. Saudi Arabia’s cellular operators; Mobily, STC, and Zain offered a total of nine M2M services, with the highest number of M2M services among all Arab countries studied in this report. Egypt came in second with seven M2M services, while Sudan and Mauritania came last with only one M2M service offering,” said Noor Al Asmar, research analyst at Arab Advisors.

Telecom operators in the region are leveraging their networks to provide M2M services to businesses and individuals. These services include surveillance and security services, tracking services, NFC services, mobile money, and M2M SIMs.

“Nineteen operators from the 53 operators analysed offered M2M SIM. The Mobile Money service and Tracking service are offered by 14 operators. NFC service follows as the third most common M2M service,” Al Asmar commented.

George Galica, head of Business Solutions at Vodafone Qatar told CommsMEA that Vodafone decided to create a centralised Global M2M offering across its 27 operators, as the company saw a demand in the market for these services.

“I expect every mobile network operator to have an M2M offer across MENA. We should be careful as to what an M2M launch means as this often is simply a special tariff and data allowance, but the experience which the end user or business enabling the M2M service gets is similar to that a consumer receives, which is unacceptable for most businesses enabling smart meters, intelligent transport for example,” commented Galica.

Vodafone Global M2M offers a set of features, software, APIs and SIMs, Galica said, which means that businesses “get the right services they need for their applications, SLAs which can be stood by and control of the devices in an automated way — this is M2M, and the key to success is automation and we have built that into our service from the ground up”.

“Telcos are well placed to be able to develop and support industry-specific business applications with these and other solutions such as Fleet Performance software, which will contribute to the generation of profits for fleet managers and their teams. Offerings in this area have the potential to reduce actual operating costs by up to 20% annually, according to industry analysts,” added Fahad Al Hassawi, chief commercial officer at du.

The importance of M2M for the telecommunications sector is indisputable. “Mobile Network Operators (MNO) are increasingly able to support customers with vertical sector solutions. One du customer, the fast-moving consumer goods company of Masafi has deployed an Android-based Samsung smartphone app running on mobile data packages supplied by du to streamline delivery and improve the accuracy of its inventory records. Masafi can also track the location of its drivers in real-time, via the GPS location of each smartphone,” he added.

“Mobile network operators worldwide are increasing their focus to provide wireless connectivity for a wide range of M2M vertical industry applications, each with a unique set of technologies, regulations and standards and business models. M2M is a key enabler for smart cities and telecom plays important role in the transformation. In the UAE, there is potential for smart building, mobile health and Oil and Gas,” Al Hassawi commented.

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