The demand for machine-to-machine (M2M) connectivity is accelerating in Mexico at a pace that is both exciting and daunting. According to a report by GSMA Intelligence published in 2020, the number of M2M connections in Mexico was projected to reach 22.2 million by 2025, up from 8.8 million in 2019. While the adoption of Internet of Things (IoT) technology has primarily driven this change, the pandemic greatly accelerated it. Within a few short years it has catapulted remote monitoring and control of machines, equipment and infrastructure from a nice-to-have to a necessity. This has led to an increased demand for M2M connectivity in a variety of industries that were previously lagging in digital transformation.
The government has also thrown its support behind M2M and IOT, with a vision that internet access will boost economic growth while reducing social disparities. But even with that reinforcement and growing national demand, there are still significant barriers that must be overcome in order to ensure that the projected deployments will be realized. One of those barriers is the state of internet access across the country as a whole. According to IFT, the country’s telecommunications regulator, in 2022 only 66% of households in Mexico had internet access. That means millions of citizens who largely live in remote areas are still without access to any mobile service.
The same issue that makes it difficult for citizens to engage in the digital economy has a high impact on enterprises deploying M2M devices into the field. Unlike consumers who can choose a local network that best suits their daily routine, connected machines can — and do — go into every corner of the country indiscriminately. While we may not see it, the internet is an essential part of our daily lives, from sensors reporting data on lifesaving medical devices to route optimization and fleet safety on trucks that deliver essential necessities into our communities. Many of these connected devices travel to rural places with poor service where there has been no economic value to the carriers for better network deployment. In order for us to connect our citizens to the digital economy so that they can benefit from the lift of technology, we must also connect our machines in a way that is cost-effective to encourage growth and innovation.
Building larger networks within Mexico is important, but it is not the only challenge impacting the future of M2M. The constraints of the telecommunications industry as a whole make it difficult for businesses to bring more connected devices online from both a cost and time perspective.
Today, the telecom industry largely sees machine-to-machine devices as fungible; therefore, enterprises are left to fit their unique needs into a predetermined package of service offerings. But when we really inspect the way that these devices interact with networks today, it’s clear that they need a greater variety of solutions. For example, a sensor reporting on an available parking spot at the airport has vastly different pricing, reliability and reporting needs than a mission-critical medical device in a patient’s home.
Until now the burden has largely been placed on businesses to determine how to cobble together the best network options so that all of their devices can stay active. This means building relationships with multiple carriers to create complex configurations of data plans and services to keep their devices connected while reducing roaming. Sometimes these devices belong to multinational companies and would benefit from a SIM card that supports a federation of networks rather than having to allocate and deploy their equipment based on regional providers. This additional weight overcomplicates deployments for the business and comes at a real cost that ultimately restricts innovation while keeping pass-through prices high for consumers.
There is a great opportunity ahead for carriers and technology partners to work together in alleviating burdens like these by improving the way that connectivity is delivered to M2M businesses. Together, we can bring these services to the cloud where it’s fast and easy for customers to manage their plans and devices, while getting real-time business intelligence on their deployments. Connecting networks in the cloud also makes it possible to combine networks, so that M2M customers can view and manage multiple plans and devices from within a single source of truth. When we lower the barrier to entry and the cost of connectivity, these savings will undoubtedly pass through to consumers.
OXIO’s telecom-as-a-service (TaaS) platform was built as an enablement layer for telecommunications to make it easy for companies to offer wireless connectivity quickly and in a more personalized and flexible manner. This is made possible by connecting the infrastructure of traditional carriers via API and cloud-based technology to form a simple and easy-to-deploy solution.
For businesses needing to connect many devices across networks, a one-stop solution can be a game changer. As an example, a company with payment terminals can deploy their machines to the field with SIM cards that automatically connect them to multiple networks, even across international borders. This means that no matter where the terminal goes, it will automatically choose the best network in the area without incurring roaming charges. If one network goes down, the device automatically switches to the next strongest network. From a simple online dashboard, an administrator can see and manage a virtual lifeline of all devices, making changes and managing their plans with ease.
Telecom innovations are the future of the industry and they hold a future to economic growth in Mexico. Ultimately it’s up to the industry as a whole to rise to the challenge, remove some of the competitiveness and work together to pave a path for emerging technology. This same path will bolster the existing network infrastructure and lift the citizens of Mexico into a brighter digital future as well. Eventually disruption comes for every industry, and the time to be ahead of change and innovate is now.