Japanese mobile phone operator NTT DoCoMo is teaming up with third party software developer Jasper Wireless to wirelessly connect machine-to-machine (M2M) and consumer electronics devices across Japan.
M2M enables devices to communicate with each other directly and without human intervention, using wireless sensors, the Internet and personal computers. It is used to automate management, monitoring and data collection, as well as to provide services through devices.
Utility companies, for instance, have started using smart meters to keep track of the electricity their customers are using and bill them accordingly. Telemedicine offers another use of M2M - for example, some heart patients wear monitors that record their heart rate and send data to implanted devices that deliver a shock to correct an erratic rhythm.
According to Jasper Wireless, its platform will provide DoCoMo with the applications and services necessary to accelerate market entry of new categories of connected devices on its network, and profitably connect and manage a range of embedded wireless devices. Jasper Wireless' platform is currently used for telematics, consumer electronics and m-health.
"The Japanese market has always been at the forefront of innovation in connected consumer electronics and advancements in the automotive industry - and DoCoMo has always been at the vanguard of commercialising new opportunities in mobile communications," said Cindy Patterson, executive vice president, worldwide sales, Jasper Wireless.
Although interest from mobile operators in the M2M sector continues to grow, consumer electronics has been "the M2M dog that has so far refused to bark", according to Jeremy Green, principal analyst at Ovum. However, the re-entry of DoCoMo into the market could be the shot in the arm that this segment of the M2M market needs.
Meanwhile, Jamie Moss, senior analyst at Informa Telecoms & Media said that the deal could have interesting ramifications for other Jasper Wireless carrier customers around the world - including AT&T, Amrica Mvil, Telefnica, VimpelCom, KPN, SingTel, Telstra, Rogers and CSL.
"Japan is well known to be a world-leading hotbed of innovation for the consumer electronics and automotive industries - and if companies active in these markets come to develop connected products in partnership with NTT DoCoMo, they may well wish to distribute those same products abroad," he said.
"The ability for enterprise users of the Jasper Wireless platform to manage their networks of connected devices globally across any other enabled carrier's network will surely make the other carrier partners of the Jasper network into a natural first choice to approach."
Yesterday it was reported that Japanese multinational IT company NEC had signed a strategic alliance with European mobile virtual network enabler (MVNE) Transatel to explore end-to-end M2M service opportunities for businesses in Europe.