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Organisations push for common M2M Service Layer standard

By: Peter Field
03 February, 2012

Bodies recognise need for cooperative standards development to ensure connectivity between myriad of M2M devices in the field.

Seven standards development organisations ("SDO") plan to team up to thrash out a common, cost efficient and widely available machine-to-machine (M2M) Service Layer, which can be readily embedded into software and hardware.

The SDOs – the Association of Radio Industries and Businesses (ARIB) and the Telecommunication Technology Committee (TTC) of Japan; the Alliance for Telecommunications Industry Solutions (ATIS) and the Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) of the USA; the China Communications Standards Association (CCSA); the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI); and the Telecommunications Technology Association (TTA) of Korea – recognise the need for cooperative standards activity.

According to ETSI, the group has taken initial steps to form a global initiative for M2M standardisation.

"This global initiative seeks to develop globally agreed M2M end-to-end specifications with initial focus on the Service Layer using common use cases and architecture principles across multiple M2M applications," ETSI said in a statement.

"The initiative will [avoid] standardisation overlap."

Participation is open to other interested parties and the SDOs say they will: "establish a simple and effective operational structure which is responsive to the needs of the various stakeholders".

The global initiative will be established early in 2012.

M2M communication has expanded rapidly beyond the original concept of a peer-to-peer wired connection to take advantage of the proliferation of global wireless networks.

Such communications improve productivity and efficiency while lowering costs, but progress risks stalling because the lack of a universal communications standard prevents machines from different manufacturers talking to each other.

"The industry has to do a better job to reach its predicted 20-50 billion devices by 2020," Kitty Weldon, Principal Analyst at US-based industry intelligence provider Current Analysis, said in a blog item.

"There is still little standardisation in M2M; components cannot talk to each other without extra help from middleware and application platforms."

According to analyst ABI Research, cellular M2M connections continue to show steady growth, and are expected to exceed 297 million in 2015. The company says Europe continues to account for the largest regional share and will have 110 million connections by 2015; North America will rank second with 79 million and the Asia-Pacific region third with almost 66 million.

In Australia, M2M applications are expected to grow significantly over the next four years according to Sydney-based IT analyst Telsyte. The firm says this presents a near $300 million opportunity for carriers, and many times more for application developers.

The company forecasts there will be three million new M2M connections to mobile networks in the country by the end of June 2015 with further significant growth expected beyond that.

"More than one-third of Australian businesses not currently using M2M applications are considering them," Telsyte Research Director Foad Fadaghi said.

Suppliers such as TData and Maxon Australia supply M2M hardware and software to Australian companies. 

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