Many of the world’s largest telecom companies are making big bets in M2M technologies. Sprint, for example, has a major division focused on this, and has formed a wide range of partnerships, including providing comprehensive wireless connectivity to thousands of residential and commercial electric vehicle charging stations. In 2012 it partnered with Orange Business Services, a division of France Telecom, to expand its M2M reach to 180 countries.
Another big vote of confidence in M2M and the Internet of Things came from General Electric, which in 2012 launched a campaign around what it called the “Industrial Internet” — about how “the deeper meshing of the digital world with the world of machines holds the potential to bring about profound transformation to global industry, and in turn to many aspects of daily life, including the way many of us do our jobs.” That’s no small statement from a company with $147 billion in annual revenue.
GE sees this as a very big business opportunity, forecasting that connecting devices to the Industrial Internet could boost global GDP by $15 trillion by 2030 — roughly the size of today’s U.S. economy. The savings come from such things as lower fuel and energy costs; better-performing and longer-lived physical assets, like airplanes and power plants; and lower-cost health care. The authors claim that in the U.S. alone the Industrial Internet could boost average incomes by 25 to 40 percent over the next 20 years “and lift growth back to levels not seen since the late 1990s.”
It’s still early days for M2M — think the Internet circa 1996 — and there will be a lot of ups and downs between here and GE’s forecasts. But there’s no question M2M has the potential to reduce energy use and greenhouse gas emissions far more than any government mandates ever could.
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