The global market for Machine-to-Machine (M2M) wireless network communications is forecast by Gartner Research to reach 50 billion connections by 2020 and will form a huge component of the future growth for wireless revenue. As a result it is seen as an extremely important growth area for wireless operators and other players in the M2M ecosystem.
Machine-to-Machine (M2M) refers to wireless network communication between two devices (as opposed to communication between two people which is traditionally what telecommunication networks were designed to enable). M2M communication enables data to be exchanged by a very broad range of ‘things’ such as shipping containers, vehicles, fridges, electricity meters, vending machines and pet/children tracking devices. These ‘machines’ can send data to a central monitoring system to report their location, their temperature, how full or empty they are, who last used them, remaining battery level and if they have any mechanical issues that require maintenance. The use of the word ‘things’ in the previous sentence is relevant because this type of device communication and associated network connectivity is also collectively referred to as ‘The internet of Things’.
The challenge for mobile operators in terms of billing, is that M2M devices are often permanently on, which means that they are constantly pinging the mobile operator’s cell towers and using cellular infrastructure, but not making any calls and typically only using very small quantities of data (e.g. sending a small location update message which is typically only a couple of kilobytes). This means they are not operating in a way that is consistent with mobile phones and the usage patterns around which operators have built their billing models. Because these 'permanently on' devices use a considerable amount of the available network resources, they also reduce the quality of the available network for normal voice calls and standard subscriber data usage.
Due to these challenges, it has become increasingly important for mobile operators to be able to identify this type of M2M traffic to ensure it is billed appropriately. However many mobile operators are unable to do this and are therefore faced with two key problems:
• No capability to charge appropriately for these permanently on devices i.e. M2M and IoT traffic
• Reduction of available network quality owing to the huge numbers of permanently on devices
Nextgen Clearing has worked with some of our key customers to develop a solution that makes it possible for operators to identify and segment different types of traffic on the network e.g. traffic generated by M2M and IoT devices. This presents the operator with the capability of billing appropriately and more profitably for M2M devices.