Tele2 Leverages Product Specialization and 'Best-of-Breed' Partners to Tap into Fast Growing Global IoT/M2M Markets

Tele2 Leverages Product Specialization and 'Best-of-Breed' Partners to Tap into Fast Growing Global IoT/M2M Markets Image Credit: PCC Mobile Broadband

The mobile connectivity business is continuing to grow. The advent of the Internet-of-Things(IoT)/ Machine-to-Machine(M2M) communications is seeing mobile network operators, the kings of mobile connectivity, now looking at new territories, which are vast and which are bountiful and which promise returns that are bigger than ever.

If connecting every human in the world was good business, connecting every machine, appliance and device that far outnumber humans is surely a lucrative proposition. This is exactly the reason why the M2M communications business has become the latest focus and the most glamorous vertical of MNOs’ businesses. Every ‘thing’ that will eventually be connected need to be powered by connectivity, and when this happens, there will be an unparalleled growth not only across all of MNOs’ networks but also in cloud-based data infrastructure and software platforms that will be storing terabytes of raw data collected from the M2M end nodes and continuous development of cloud computing and analytics capabilities to translate all the data collected into information that is usable and actionable.

The Tele2 M2M Story 

MNOs, in recent years, have not only beefed up their M2M connectivity capabilities, but have also started rolling out cloud-based IoT/M2M platforms and services while at the same time growing their M2M partnership ecosystems and their brand presence to prepare themselves to brace for the major change that is sweeping the mobile connectivity business. PCC Mobile Broadband spoke to Tele2, a mobile operator based in Sweden with more than 14 million subscribers across 10 countries in  Europe, about its Tele2 M2M Global Solutions and its expansion into the Internet-of-Things business, following up on the company’s recently announced partnership with Aerea, the exclusive SIGFOX network operator for the Netherlands which will enable Tele2 to offer SIGFOX-based M2M connectivity service in the country.

Rami Avidan,
Commercial Director M2M,

Rami Avidan, Commercial Director M2M, Tele2, said that Tele2 is well poised to tap into the huge growth expected in the M2M segment, with clear-cut strategies and strong internal capabilities to manage and deliver M2M services on a global scale. According to Rami, Tele2’s M2M unit is a fully fledged organization within an organization, a strategy that allows Tele2 to quickly and effectively respond to their customer needs and also to meet the specific demands of the different verticals and markets they serve, which Rami highlights is a key differentiating factor in delivering quality service and in ensuring customer satisfaction. At the same time, the centralization of all Tele2’s M2M business within this unit allows it to coordinate and respond quickly to leads generated by Tele2’s subsidiaries and affiliates across the globe.

The company has made major inroads into automotive (telematics and fleet management), industrial automation and security verticals and is following up with more initiatives in the healthcare and smart city verticals, two other areas that are poised to take off in a big way this year. According to Rami, the European market is still their main focus, although they have expanded their presence to North America, South America, Africa and Asia Pacific and foresees Tele2’s M2M global solutions reaching more countries in near future.

The Tele2 M2M Advantage

Rami said that one of Tele2's competitive edges in the market is its infrastructure which is M2M-built – a feature enabled by the fact that Tele2 is a relatively new entrant in the M2M space, compared to older companies which are leveraging legacy infrastructure to deliver M2M connectivity services. At the same time, Tele2 has put in place a very well defined partnership strategy for its M2M partner ecosystem which currently boasts more than 550 roaming partners. The strategy sees a clear demarcation of roles across the different type of companies participating in the ecosystem – system integrators, application providers, resellers, distributors etc – allowing each company to focus on its core competencies. This is a vital feature in growing and expanding an M2M partnership ecosystem, which is inherently made up of players who tend to have overlapping capabilities and solution offerings. Rami pointed out that defining everyone’s role at the onset is critical to avoid cannibalization within a partner ecosystem, a quality providers of M2M solutions and services look for before embarking on joint to-go-market arrangements.

According to Rami, another key strength of Tele2’s global M2M business is its M2M technology which boasts some of the leading IoT/M2M platforms in the industry, including the widely used Jasper IoT/M2M platform from Jasper Wireless and connectivity technology brought by Telit Wireless, whose services are currently used by more than 5000 companies worldwide. Telit Wireless boasts solutions that cover long range cellular connections, short-to-long range license free wireless connections and position awareness for connected devices. Rami said that these leading IoT/M2M platforms and device and module management solutions coupled with Tele2’s own BSS and OSS capabilities allow Tele2 to design and rollout some of the most interesting and innovative M2M offerings in the market.   

Apart from this, Tele2’s Global M2M Solutions also boasts inter-operator partnerships with other major global service providers such as Telefonica and AT&T, enabling Tele2 to provide comprehensive global coverage for their enterprise customers such as automotive companies who have customers all over the world, while also sharing the expertise and other technical capabilities to ensure the coverage and service quality needs of these customers are well met. While Tele2 is already working with a number of leading service providers in this aspect, it plans to establish stronger relationship – commercially and technically - with selected service providers in future.

Bringing Sigfox into the equation

The delivery of M2M services, whether it is connectivity, computing or analytics, has to be tailored very carefully to address the exact need of the applications, said Rami and this is where, he added, that Sigfox, the network that utilizes unlicensed narrowband frequencies which makes it a perfect alternative for transmitting very small messages from billions of M2M end nodes without requiring heavy hardware and high transmission costs, comes into play.

The Sigfox connectivity service, developed and operated by the French-based company Sigfox in partnership with service providers and providers of IoT/M2M platforms, will enable Tele2 to meet the specific needs of applications such as metering – water, parking and electricity, as well as domestic appliances such as washing machines, ovens and dishwashers – which require the connectivity to be built-in (instead of having the user configure the Wi-Fi connectivity on each of these devices/machines and ensuring that the home router is set up and functioning and most importantly, that his home broadband or wireless broadband connectivity is already up).

Sigfox which also makes very little use of power, making it suitable for very small devices and appliances which are battery powered and for those that need to be carried around such as a healthcare devices, delivers all these benefits at a fraction of the cost (almost one-twelfth) compared to 2G, 3G or 4G connectivity. By partnering with Sigfox or Sigfox network providers such as Aerea whose Sigfox network covers 85% of the Netherlands, Tele2 will be able to roll out its M2M connectivity services for a wider range of applications across wider areas – enabling it to offer both GSM-based and Sigfox-based as well as hybrid connectivity solutions for customers.

The importance of tailoring M2M solutions to the specificities of an industry or application is what pushing Tele2 to select the best-of-breed partners for its ecosystem, who are able to deliver value across its go-to-market initiatives, commercially and in terms of knowledge and expertise, added Rami. Leveraging the specialized expertise of each player in the ecosystem and focusing on customization see Tele2 rolling out sand-boxed solutions that reduce time-to-market and which simplify and accelerate the implementation process, citing examples such as M2M solutions in the security segment such as connected CCTVs, fire-alarms, burglar alarms or home alarms, which are pre-bundled and which are readily available for deployment. 

Rami further added that Tele2’s strategy to address each specific application with well developed and highly customized solutions will see the company making major strides across its key focus areas – industrial automation, transportation, security, infrastructure, healthcare and automated meter reading – as the IoT/M2M connections continue to grow to reach more than 1 billion connections globally by 2020*.