EE launches dedicated M2M service

UK mobile operator EE has unveiled a new business service designed specifically for M2M, called EE Connect, which offers a suite of M2M tools.

Among those services are device monitoring, remote business rule management and detailed reporting, and EE has also created a service team. There are apparently already 2 million machines communicating to each other over the EE 2G and 3G network and that is set to double over the next couple of years. spoke to Alex Forbes, Head of International M2M at EE, and asked him why EE sees the need to launch a distinct service just for M2M. “Providing connectivity to machines – be it 2G, 3G or 4G – is not a true M2M service,” said Forbes. “Customers need reporting and real time monitoring to be able to achieve the scale that M2M allows. And as their M2M operations grow, they need dedicated service.

“We have developed a rich set of functionality. For example, our portal gives a customer the ability to perform diagnostics on their devices if they have an issue, rather than contacting our service centre for what is likely to be a simple issue. This means a customer can interrogate their device, identify the issue and resolve it much more quickly hence giving them a more reliable solution.

“Another feature is the powerful automation tool – now a customer can set up business rules to deal with unexpected events.  For example if a vehicle with a tracking solution unexpectedly travels abroad and starts roaming – a user can be alerted by email, SMS or push API and have a rule in place to deal with the situation – terminate the SIM or cap the usage.

Setting up this service doesn’t seem to have required much in the way of fresh network investment, but Forbes thinks the billions EE has spent on the network in recent years will pay have made it more able to offer new services such as this.

“As well as investing in our 4G network we have also replaced all our 2G equipment – still the bearer for the majority of low bandwidth M2M solutions,” he said. “We have also invested in our backhaul capacity to ensure we have built a data highway big enough to handle today’s as well as tomorrow’s M2M and IoT data traffic.”

There’s no set price list – EE preferring to find out what is needed first – but the company is offering free trial kits. This is the sort of potentially high margin service business that operators need to be exploring if they’re to compensate for declining ARPUs, etc, so it will be interesting to see if it generates much interest.

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