LAS VEGAS – WaveCom firmly believes machine-to-machine communications is the wireless industry’s Next Big Thing, COO Anders Franzen said at the CTIA Wireless show here.
The Paris-based company formed in the late 1990s to build software for GSM and GPRS, mostly in emerging markets, but refocused on the M2M business in 2004. Now it’s bringing rugged wireless modems to U.S. customers, such as the Q52 Omni Wireless CPU, a hybrid of GSM and satellite systems.
“This is for high-value asset tracking, particularly when you’re moving into areas where you don’t have cellular coverage,” Franzen said. It’s sampling now and will be available later this summer or early this fall in the $160-$180 range.
WaveCom also announced that 12 of its modems in the FastTrack Supreme, Wireless Microprocessor and Q2687 series are now certified by AT&T. The Wireless Microprocessor is unique because it can run customer’s software using external memory, while the Q2687 has its own memory but is for customers who don’t want a surface-mount version.
Related to WaveCom’s U.S. push is its dream of changing how open-network devices get certified. “One of the main differences between this market and Europe and Asia is, in Europe and Asia, once you meet the regulatory approval criteria you are free to deploy … In [the U.S.] we have the regulatory approval plus another hurdle to go through with the carrier-specific certifications. That’s what we’re constantly discussing and trying to get the carriers to realize,” Franzen said.
He has a theory about the extra step: “I think it’s paranoia about managing their network. I think they’re very scared about having developments on the network which can create problems for them … and by a wish to differentiate themselves.”
WaveCom’s future involves more products that will let customers run custom software, including real-time operating systems support. ZigBee and satellite networks will be supported in more products, and WiMAX is being considered. Perhaps most important, the company will look to expand its revenue from services, such as remote updates – but that will require more support from back-end IT infrastructure and perhaps from carriers.