Operators urged to focus attention on M2M roaming

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Operators need to devote greater attention to M2M connections overseas after its share of total roaming more than doubled during the past 12 months, a new report has claimed.

Machina Research said in 2015 M2M devices accounted for seven percent of all roamers and claimed there could be as many machines as people roaming by 2020. The firm said there are currently 350 million Internet of Things connections worldwide, which will grow to 1.3 billion within five years.

There is greater demand for "permanent roaming" when it comes to M2M connections, with enterprises keen to deal with one company. Machina said manufacturers are not keen on building products with SIMs tailored for specific markets and wanted the greater levels of coverage that permanent roaming offers.

While Machina noted growing numbers of M2M connections is good news for operators, they also create some problems. One is how M2M devices are used differently to traditional customers. While some connections use a large amount of data, others require a minimum.

Machina, which carried out the research with roaming provider Starhome Mach, said operators also had difficulty in directing traffic to a preferred network in the visited country. It claimed there was a lack of transparency between networks which resulted in more challenging management of roaming devices.

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The report noted vendors were building tools to try and get around these issues. It highlighted the eUICC, which allows operators to re-provision roaming SIMS with a local IMSI, allowing the connection to map onto a local network.

Another factor was alliances where an enterprise signs a service level agreement with a telco, which then has wholesale agreements in place with operators worldwide.

Jeremy Green, Principal Analyst at Machina Research, said: “Network operators need to be more aware of what is happening with both inbound and outbound roaming M2M devices. Without such insight it’s hard to see how they can optimise service for their customers, meet regulatory requirements, or ensure the smooth and reliable functioning of their networks and international services.”