Telstra Bulks Up for M2M Push

Telstra Corp. Ltd. (ASX: TLS; NZK: TLS) is set to make a bigger push into machine-to-machine (M2M) services in Australia as the carrier launches a new Web-based service management tool for its M2M customers this week.

The carrier expects Australian M2M services to grow from A$300 million (US$288 million) in revenues this year to A$1.3 billion ($1.2 billion) by 2015. And Telstra wants a piece of that M2M action. (See M2M: Where WiMax Meets Lindsay Lohan.)

The key to seizing this growth opportunity is scaling up cost-efficiently, according to Mike Cihra, Telstra's director of M2M practice and partners.

"We're talking about a low-ARPU [average revenue per user] proposition, so we want to have [a system] that's cost-efficient for us," Cihra told Light Reading Mobile. "We need to be cost-efficient as it relates to scaling the business."

To that end, a big part of the operator's efficiency drive in its M2M plan is the rollout of self-service management capabilities in a new Telstra Wireless M2M Control Centre, which is provided by M2M technology specialist Jasper Wireless Inc.

The Control Centre is a Web-based self-service portal that will let Telstra's business customers activate and provision SIM cards themselves, check to make sure the devices work before eating into their data service plans, and manage their M2M services.

Telstra already has hundreds of thousands of M2M customers, according to Cihra. The most popular M2M applications are asset tracking, wireless point of sale, security, and meter reading. But Cihra said he expects to see more activity from businesses that need to manage vending machines, digital signage, and personal navigation devices.

For now, most of the M2M applications don’t use lots of bandwidth and are able to be carried on Telstra's GPRS network. But that is set to change, and Telstra's Next G network is there to shoulder the heavier bandwidth burden of future M2M apps that are expected to be more video intensive. Telstra's Next G network has peak 3G speeds of 42Mbit/s across 100 locations in cities and peak speeds of 21Mbit/s nationally.

"There's sufficient capacity within more traditional networks to support these customers," said Cihra. "But we expect there to be growing interest in using more data for these services, where multimedia and video are being pushed [to devices]." Other carriers that have also deployed Jasper's M2M systems include AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) and KPN Telecom NV (NYSE: KPN). (See AT&T Does M2M and KPN Joins M2M Pack in Germany.)

— Michelle Donegan, European Editor, Light Reading Mobile

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