From monitoring oil rigs to catching thieves and preventing natural disasters, machine-to-machine technology has become big business. And now with a bigger wireless pipeline, it’s leaving its mark in many diverse industries.
“Networks have become, obviously, faster and more ubiquitous,” says Brian DeMuy, strategic alliance director at Telus Communications Co. [TSX: T, T.A; NYSE: TU], “and so that allows applications that traditionally ran over wired technology to start thinking about wireless.”
Telus, BCE Inc.’s Bell Mobility [TSX, NYSE: BCE] and Rogers Communications Inc. [TSX: RCI.A and RCI.B] are now HSPA carriers, which opens up a whole host of possibilities. “What’s exciting to us, being an HSPA carrier where bandwidth and latency is a significant driver for those higher-speed wireless technologies, are things like digital signage, digital media,” says DeMuy. “Things that really take advantage of those higher speeds.”
“Same would be for remote security surveillance, using video now for event-driven security or event-driven surveillance. “
Danny Thomas, executive vice-president of network and support operations at KORE Telematics Inc., an M2M service provider that offers connectivity through Tier 1 networks around the world, including in Canada, says that demand for a bigger pipe stands to increase exponentially. “We sell a lot of 1-5 MB data plans. But we’re starting to see requests for 2 GB data plans.”
“We have customers now—cities—that have streaming video on traffic intersections. So the data rates are getting up there.”
Rogers, Telus and KORE also anticipate the retail and financial sectors becoming major markets for M2M in the future. KORE already has a salesperson who handles point-of-sale (POS) clients exclusively.
“We’re seeing a lot of retail and financial services using wireless instead of landline circuits to connect things up right now,” says Mansell Nelson, vice-president of M2M at Rogers. “We’re seeing it in ATMs… [and] there’s a huge turnover in point-of-sale right now because of the whole chip and PIN technology.”
With more bandwidth, wireless ATMs are becoming more common as well, offering the advantages of portability and easier transportation. They can be moved by truck and installed at an event temporarily, for example.
“You also get the ability to track that machine if somebody steals it,” says Thomas. “You know, we know it went off the air at this time—we can do a lot of things with that, especially if they power it back up or something.
“A lot of machines have batteries in them, so if they move, the battery kicks in, it’s still processing data, and we have what’s called KORE LOCATE—we can locate that device up until the time that the battery would die.”