Telefónica leans of partners for global M2M push

The operator is expanding U.S. partner program to Europe before rolling out to other parts of the world

Telefónica plans to launch its M2M (machine to machine) channel partner program globally, hoping to reinforce its position in a sector that's becoming increasingly competitive.

The Spanish telecom operator first launched the program in the U.S., where more than 80 companies enrolled in less than seven months, it said Thursday. Telefónica is now expanding this initiative globally starting with Europe before rolling it out to other parts of the world.

Ninety more companies are already in the process of joining the program. The goal for this year is to enroll a total of 250 partners.

Operators play a fundamental role in the M2M industry, thanks to the connectivity they offer, according to Anthony Cox, associate analyst with Juniper Research. To what extent operators need to lean on partners to satisfy the demands of customers depends on the sector. For example, more sophisticated sectors such as e-health and telematics are areas where operators benefit from working with partners, Cox said.

Telefónica isn't the only operator working with partners to give their M2M efforts a boost. Vodafone, Sprint, Deutsche Telekom and Orange have similar programs. Verizon has an M2M partner program aimed at developers. Operators are also signing larger deals, such as AT&T's partnership with General Electric.

To make it easier to roll out M2M services, operators are also working with each other to offer better coverage. Telefónica is a member of The M2M World Alliance, whose member list includes Etisalat, KPN, NTT DoCoMo, Rogers, SingTel, Telstra and VimpelCom. In December, the alliance launched a service encouraging enterprises to use their combined coverage without paying roaming charges.

Major growth areas identified by the alliance for M2M include connected cars, fleet management, smart meters, wearables, e-health and security solutions, it said at the time.

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Mikael Ricknäs

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