Machine-to-machine (M2M) applications over mobile phone networks have taken off in North America, with the number of connected machines set to reach 66 million by 2011, according to analyst Berg Insight.
At the end of 2006, there were nine million active cellular and satellite wireless M2M or "telematics" connections in the US and Canada.
Berg said that private vehicles constituted the largest vertical market segment in terms of units, followed by commercial vehicles, security alarms and point of sale terminals.
“The automobile manufacturers continue to drive the demand for wireless M2M on cellular networks in North America,” said Berg analyst Tobias Ryberg. “We expect other brands will soon follow GM and incorporate telematics units as standard equipment in their vehicles.”
Another important development highlighted in the Berg report is the urgent need to upgrade older analogue solutions such as the AMPS and Mobitex networks, which are set to be dismantled in early 2008. Berg estimates there are a million security alarms still connected to analogue networks in the US alone.
According to the analyst, utility meters are an area with enormous growth potential for cellular wireless M2M technology in the US and Canada, although power line communication technologies could also be used by providers.
Some utility companies in the UK already use wireless metering technologies.
Some providers of analogue M2M systems in the UK have expressed concern that BT’s £10bn IP-based 21st Century Network may cause integration problems with older connectivity solutions.
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