The Government of Indiapublished its draft policy reportNational Telecom M2M Roadmapin January 2015, which recognisesthe potential of machine-to-machine (M2M) to transform various industrial sectors, citizen and consumer experiences.The draft report represents the foundation for future M2M policy making.This comment examines some of the policy directions proposed in the draft report.
India’s draft policy roadmap aims to transform the country into an M2M leader
The roadmap outlines the ways that India’s national government can influence the development of M2M in the country. It suggeststhat publicly-funded, large-scale investment projects (referred to as ‘megaprojects’),in combination with policies that support local technology development,will invigorate M2M supply and demand in India (see Figure 1).There are parallels with the UK government’s report on Internet of Things (IoT),which recommends that the government use its buying power to drive IoT.
Figure 1: Analysys Mason’s interpretation of the strategic and enabling pillars of India’s draft National Telecom M2M Roadmap
The roadmap may act as a catalyst for the growth of M2M usage in India. The main challenge will be to determine how to effectively involve the private sector in order to ensure the success of this initiative. Business viability is of paramount importance – without this,the private sector will not participate in anysignificant way.
India has been slow to adopt M2M technologies in comparison to other BRIC markets. China hasthe largest M2M market worldwide,and Brazil and Russia have both experienced significant M2M deployment in certain sectors, such as fleet management and asset tracking.
There are several factors that have limited the growth of M2M in the Indianmarket. Affordability is one of the main barriers for many enterprises, particularly because of the large number of SMEs in the country. This, in combination with extremely low labour costs, has undermined the business case for M2M deployment in a number of important sectors. The roadmap signals a new, concerted approach to the M2M opportunity in India, and its government is now beginning to foster the country’s position at the forefront of this sector.
The draft report calls for greater co-ordination on M2M between Indian ministries and stakeholders
Several M2M initiatives have been undertaken in India within the last few years, but the approach has remained highly fragmented and isolated in some sectors.The roadmap providesnecessary clarity on howM2M adoption can be enabled, and accelerated, in the country in order to establish India as a leading country forM2M adoption.
The report proposes the formation of a governmental body that will be responsible for interministerial co-ordination to fully capture the overlapping policy requirements from various M2M sectors. The report also calls for Indian companies to establish an M2M stakeholder forum, similar toGermany’s Industrie 4.0,which was established for the advancement of the country’s Industrial Internet.
The Indian authorities are adopting a top-down approach to M2M policy
The roadmap describes a top-down approach to M2M, andsuggests that publicly funded M2M megaprojects and technologyenablement policies will invigorate M2M supply and demand in India.
Several M2M megaprojects have already been announced by the Indian government. These projects are expected to play a significant role in boosting the Indian economy.
- Smart cities: The Ministry of Urban Development has proposed the development of 100 Smart cities.
- Smart grids: The Ministry of Power has established 14 Smart Grid pilots, and eachhas an average customer base of approximately 20 000 users.
- Automated emergency assistance: The Ministry of Road Transport and Highwaysrequiresthat all commercial passenger vehicles that have a seating capacity of 22 people or more must be equipped with GPS and emergency call technology.
It it is expected that further projects like this will be developed.
One of the objectives for the Indian government is to ensure that M2M is made available in rural areas. The completion of the National Optical Fibre Network (NOFN) will act as a robust support for communication services – including M2M services – in rural areas,according to the report.
The draft report also states that M2M mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs) have had an impact on the M2M market in other countries, such as Brazil. These MVNOs have been successful in bringing M2M to smaller enterprises. MVNOs are not permitted in India at present.However, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) is currently developing its position on MVNOs, and this report suggests that M2M MVNOs are viewed favourably by the Indian government.
The roadmap notes a number of further M2M-specific technology enablement issues that will need to be addressed by the regulatory authorities in India, including spectrum requirements, frequency ranges for power-line communication (PLC) and a numbering plan for M2M.
Support for localised M2M industry
The report notes that M2M adoption ishampered in India because the cost of hardware and deployment sensorsoften results in a “high opex to ARPU ratio imposing questions on affordability of M2M deployment”.The report also states that this can be addressed “if indigenous manufacturing takes place in India”.
M2M hardware components are ordinarily imported into India. However, India has a preferential market access (PMA) policy for domestic telecoms equipment manufacturers. This policy requires that a certain percentage of telecoms equipment for public contracts must be procured from local manufacturers. The draft report notes that M2M-specific hardware can be brought into the PMA framework.
 Government of India, Ministry of Communication and Information Technology, and Department of Telecommunications (January 2015), National Telecom M2M Roadmap (draft).Availableat: http://www.dot.gov.in/sites/default/files/Draft%20National%20Telecom%20M2M%20Roadmap.pdf.
 Government Office for Science, UK (December 2014), The Internet of Things: making the most of the Second Digital Revolution.Available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/409774/14-1230-internet-of-things-review.pdf.
 Brazil, Russia, India and China
 The report argues that national security and law enforcement should be a focalpoint forM2M regulation in India. However, these arguments arenot explored in this Comment.
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