While it's still a couple months before the Mobile World Congress show kicks off, the GSM Association (GSMA (News - Alert)) isn't letting any moss grow under it, publishing a new line of specifications geared toward building connectivity for embedded SIMs located in devices involved in machine to machine (M2M) connections. The early word suggests there are a lot of big names involved in the project, and it may well prove to be a major force in M2M for some time to come.
Currently, the new specs have the support of a host of major firms, including AT&T, China Mobile, China Unicom, Deutsche Telekom, NTT DoCoMo (News - Alert), Orange, Telefonica, Vodafone and several others. This represents a substantial portion of the world's telecom systems, so the GSMA certainly has plenty of backing for the new stats. The stats, meanwhile, deliver on several fronts, offering up a means for mobile operators to offer connectivity that's scalable to meet users' needs, secure—which is a need for pretty much every user—and of course, interoperable, promoting a more universal approach to connectivity and, in turn, providing a better way to connect devices.
With an embedded SIM system that's industry standard, based on remarks from the GSMA, the process of developing for M2M systems will likely go a lot more smoothly since the issue of connectivity will be largely decided with one chip operating on one protocol. There won't be a need for, for example, AT&T (News - Alert) to develop its own protocols and put said protocols to work. That may not sound like a bad idea until the issue of interconnectivity comes up; would that AT&T protocol work with the Deutsche Telekom (News - Alert) protocol? This way, the question doesn't even need to be asked.
The new protocol is expected to arrive starting in 2014, and given that earlier reports have suggested that there will be 11 billion connected devices in play by 2020, something like this may well serve as the necessary catalyst to fire up such big reactions. As the GSMA's CTO, Alex Sinclair, describes, getting that kind of growth to kick in will be largely dependent on universal systems to help smooth development.
Indeed, we've already seen quite a bit of development as far as M2M goes, and plenty of different devices that can handily communicate with each other. The growth of smart houses has shown this development particularly well, as various devices interconnect to allow users to control a house's heating and cooling systems remotely, as well as turn on and turn off both lights and various appliances. But by like token, we've also seen plenty of problems emerge in the M2M sector, particularly in terms of control. Something like this, that will take one key point out of the development phase, may certainly help that along; we noted earlier that some “design thinking” could be useful in the development of M2M, and one of the biggest parts of “design thinking” is infrastructure. Connectivity is part—a big part, really—of infrastructure, and something that's done with an eye toward improving that connectivity can really only help improve M2M.
It's not going to be a magic bullet solution by any stretch. But it likely will prove to be a big part of that magic bullet solution, and help improve M2M creation in the process. With more development able to go into M2M for the same amount of resources, that's likely going to give us some new advances, and shape up 2014 for some truly exciting possibilities.
Edited by Rachel Ramsey