2G + 4G = True!

June 2, 2015

2G-nokia-3310In August 2012 AT&T announced that their 2G network would be shut down latest January 1 2017. This was somewhat surprising to me since roughly 90% of all M2M devices connected to mobile networks used 2G. (https://connectcompute.com/2012/08/08/what-will-be-the-impact-on-m2m-of-announcement-to-shut-down-2g/) Given that 3G is something of a compromise I would have believed that 2G and 4G would be a better bet – one with cheap modules, low bandwidth and great coverage and one focusing on data intensive terminals and applications.

Since two years, we have started to see mobile operators taking different roads for IoT. Good examples include Tele2 who only provide connectivity and great partnerships, Telenor Connexion who was the first to use both Jasper and EDCP (because they follow their customers) and KPN who returned back to Holland, building their business from there with excellent roaming.

And here we go again! Telenor Norway’s CTO, Magnus Zetterberg, said at an investor meeting in London that the company plans to completely shut down its 3G network in 2020, five years before it closes 2G in 2025. “It’s better to retain 2G than 3G because all the devices today are still embedded with 2G, so you will lose out without the network,” he said. “2G is still important for the M2M market.”

I believe this is a good approach since replacing all 2G M2M modules installed across the country to something else, even if only a SIM-card from someone else, is a disturbance and cost the customers neither expect nor like. The labour cost involved in changing are typically far bigger than the hardware. And Telenor is creating yet another criteria for customers to evaluate when picking mobile operator for their IoT applications. And with a 2G/4G approach an operator probably has a better answer to a customer who want to deploy a large IoT project today with an ROI calculation for 8-10 years.

From consumers with love

May 15, 2012
Security, efficiency and sustainability are the three key promises of M2M to businesses. And most applications of M2M address one or several of these straight forward issues in an organization: minimize use of service cars, avoid production stops, save valuable time with accidents, make processes more efficient, automate to avoid expensive labour work, etc. These are straight forward in the sense that we address concrete problems quite easy to put numbers on and investments can be verified using business cases and ROI. But the ultimate value of M2M comes from innovative business models, increased brand value and other less tangible things. And these are much more complicated to identify and dress in numbers. Innovation and creativity is clearly an important part of such efforts and I would suggest companies to look at the M2M consumer market to get ideas and cases to bring home.
There is actually a fourth promise of M2M which I normally don’t talk about to businesses – convenience. But in the consumer market this is a key driver and differentiator. Other reasons to look carefully at the consumer market are the typically limited budgets forcing innovative and cost efficient solutions and the absolute requirement for easy to install and use solutions. In addition consumers are generally more open to cloud services and many of them are early adopters with smartphones, pads and other gadgets. Examples of things and tricks to bring from the consumer space to business could be the use of smartphones to connect devices cheaply to the Internet and the host of innovative cloud services using sensors and gadgets in the growing personal health and fitness market. Imagine how much the home care providers can steal with pride from here! Take also a closer look at how well many consumer services enable their users to use any and all of their devices for the service. A lot to learn there.

And by the way, isn’t the Internet-of-Things a misleading name? There is only one Internet of People and Things.

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