T-Mobile USA Boosts M2M, HSPA+

T-Mobile US Inc. is continuing its aggressive push in the increasingly important machine-to-machine (M2M) services market by striking a partnership with asset protection provider IContain and Asset Protection Products LLC (APP) to help reduce operating costs in the US$7 billion US rent-to-own (RTO) sector. (See M2M: Where WiMax Meets Lindsay Lohan and WiMax Finds Short-Term Niche in 4G M2M.)

And in a move that will help support its M2M strategy, the operator is set to roll out HSPA+ 3G services in more US markets in the coming days. Not because M2M needs greater mobile broadband bandwidth, though, but because deploying HSPA+ helps reduce latency and improve mobile data quality of service.

According to the Boy Genius Report blog, T-Mobile will be launching HSPA+ services in 19 additional markets on July 21, including Austin, Texas; Baltimore; Kansas City, Mo.; and San Antonio.

This will bring its total HSPA+ markets to 44. Its goal is still to cover 100 markets and 185 million people across the US before the end of the year, according to a spokeswoman. (See T-Mobile USA Expands HSPA+ and T-Mobile Hangs Growth Hopes on HSPA+ in US.)

In addition to announcing the new markets, T-Mobile is expected to launch a new webConnect Rocket 2.0 USB data stick and Dell Technologies (Nasdaq: DELL) Inspiron Mini 10 netbook in select HSPA+ markets, according to the blog. T-Mobile has also promised an HSPA+ smartphone, the world's first, for the market by September. (See T-Mobile HSPA+ Smartphone Due in September .)

Targeting the RTO market
In tandem with its mobile data service enhancements, T-Mobile has been developing applications for the RTO market with its new partners. Key to the new offer is IContain's ICX cellular-controlled power solution, which could also be used in smart home deployments, as it enables remote management over any electrical device.

Using M2M connections over the operator's 2G network, RTO operators can communicate with their customers to collect payments, track missing items, and track down stolen or missing items in real time.

T-Mobile has been testing the M2M app with iControl for the past eight months. The operator's M2M director John Horn says asset tracking and wireless security are two areas where M2M is picking up steam as module prices fall to a point where they can track a lot more assets.

But while module prices are important, mobile broadband speeds are much less of an issue. "It's a marketplace that could care less about speeds," Horn says. "[For] 99 of the applications, speed is irrelevant. They want connectivity at a lower price."

The implication is that most apps will never need the speed that HSPA+ and 4G networks offer, but many carriers -- including T-Mobile USA -- are pushing these technologies as a way to future-proof their M2M apps and guard against latency. T-Mobile is also testing its HSPA+ network with two companies working on telematics apps. (See Does 4G Have a Role in M2M? and M2M: Where WiMax Meets Lindsay Lohan.)

— Sarah Reedy, Senior Reporter, Light Reading Mobile

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