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Verizon: Telematics Needs Software, Standards

Sarah Thomas

NICE, France – TM Forum Live! -- Standardized notification platforms are readily available for network and IT functions, but are lacking in the machine-to-machine (M2M) communications space, a Verizon telematics exec said here this week, noting that the software industry is still trying to catch up with the immense growth in M2M connections.

"Service providers have to be innovative, and be software developers as well until standards are there, and software packages are there to fulfill needs," Alida Fazlagic, director of enterprise architecture at Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ), said in a presentation.

Fazlagic joined Verizon through its 2012 acquisition of Hughes Telematics, so her perspective is one of an architect charged with making telematics work over the long term, fitting it into her parent company's business strategy, and standardizing the architecture. She said this has been an enormous challenge given the number of business models they have been asked to support over the past eight years. (See Verizon Spends $612M for a Future in Cars.)

"We thought it was complicated when each customer had a physical address, then mobile devices required decoupling," she said. "Now the problem has become much more complicated with a lot more entities to deal with and a lot more relationships to manage. If you don't get them right, you'll find yourself in a position of not being able to support a new innovative service your business has defined."

What makes telematics unique is that the paying customer may not be the end-user, and the role they want a network operator to play varies as well. Some of Verizon's car customers, which include Mercedes Benz, Nissan, Volkswagen and Audi, want Verizon to provide the telematics, the call center management, and to own the relationship with the customer, acting as the central point for all customer and vehicle data, she said. Others want only some of those components. (See Finding the Value in Transportation Telematics.)

Verizon also supplies to insurance companies looking to charge by usage. In that case, Verizon is supporting a device that's shipped to its customers. Finally, a fourth business model is business-to-consumer, in which Verizon works directly with the end-user. (See Verizon Chasing Insurance Telematics Gold.)

Given all these different demands placed on the backend, Fazlagic said it's easy to lose sight of standardization. Verizon uses the TM Forum 's TAM application framework to enable these different use cases and business models with the goal of creating a standardized approach to development.

"Given the challenges imposed by this, we are giving a lot more thought to standardization, to decoupling services, and BSS/OSS to be better prepared to entertain additional requirements that will be challenges along this road," she said.

— Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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User Rank: Blogger
6/4/2014 | 9:40:46 PM
Internet of Things
We hear so much about M2M as part of the Internet of Things it's hard to believe standards have fallen through the cracks.
User Rank: Light Sabre
6/4/2014 | 5:23:31 PM
What role should the government play in this?
So far the NHTSA has left automakers and telematics developers to their own devices, without providing much guidance on how M2M communications should work for cars. But perhaps this is a case where govt standards might accelerate development by providing a framework?

The complicating issue may be that the EU and the US have very different approaches to car safety standards... so it may not actually work well to have a single government try to tackle M2M communications for roads/cars/infrastructure.
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