German mobile phone operator E-Plus Mobilfunk GmbH & Co. is rolling out a new package of competitive fees aimed at businesses using cellular-based machine communications.
With its new price plan announced Wednesday, E-Plus, a subsidiary of the Dutch mobile phone group KPN Mobile, hopes to tap the nascent market for machine-to-machine communications, a sector that analysts view as one of the next big growth areas for cell phone companies.
Cellular machine-to-machine communications can involve short-message service messages or data sent automatically to a wireless module from a computer, or vice versa, without human involvement. For instance, cars could someday call automatically for help after an accident, identify with pinpoint accuracy where they are and provide information about the type of accident.
In addition to vehicles, the modules could be integrated into fleet management systems, vending machines, security alarms, office equipment and domestic appliances.
The E-Plus MSM Data Option offers four basic rates, beginning with a per-unit monthly fee of 1.50 euros (US$1.9), excluding 16 percent value-added tax, for 1MB of data transmission and extending to a 6 euros monthly fee for 10MB. Each kilobyte of data exceeding the applicable monthly rate can cost between 0.0023 to 0.0014 euros.
Customers must use cellular devices equipped with general packet radio service technology.
In addition to E-Plus, several other operators have their eyes set on grabbing a piece of the machine-to-machine pie, including Cingular Wireless, Sprint Nextel, Orange, TeliaSonera and T-Mobile International & Co., according to ABI Research.
In a study, ABI Research said cellular machine-to-machine is becoming a prominent enabler in numerous enterprise and industrial applications.
By John Blau, IDG News Service (Dusseldorf Bureau)
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