Global Telecoms Take on the Internet of Things with Release of Specifications for M2M Communications

Feb. 6, 2015
Release 1 focuses on M2M communications choices that enable the Internet of Things

The global machine-to-machine (M2M) communications standards initiative, oneM2M, has issued its Release 1, a set of 10 specifications covering requirements, architecture, API specifications, security solutions and mapping to common industry protocols such as CoAP, MQTT and HTTP.  Release 1 also makes use of OMA and Broadband Forum specifications for device management capabilities. Release 1 is available online here.

The problem oneM2M is addressing is that at present the communication required to enable the Internet of Things (IoT) to achieve its potential is complicated by the fact that the individual devices that make up the IoT have disparate platforms, proprietary software, protocols and networking options. The complexity of seamlessly connecting them all is one of the things hampering the growth of the IoT.

What oneM2M Release 1’s authors say it offers is a way to overcome that complexity at a level above that of the individual device or user. Richard Brennan, marketing and communications chair for one M2M explains, “At the consumer level, you have all these various networking choices. OneM2M is about bringing all these network choices together without interfering with choices at consumer level. We federate them at a level above consumer choice. We don’t want to build the intranet of things, but the Internet of Things.”

The analogy he uses is that of current telephony systems. Consumers can make calls from Android phones to iPhones or Skype numbers or landlines or PBX phones and vice versa, and the calls will all work seamlessly in spite of the different platforms at the individual level. The reason they can is because the telephone service providers have standardized their communications networks at a level above that of the consumer, a level invisible to the individual phone user. With its Release 1, oneM2M is launching the beginnings of a system that it hopes will function the same way for the potentially millions of devices that will make up the Internet of Things.

Brennan says, “There’s a standardized interface. If each system chooses to write to the oneM2M system, we can connect. No one has to change their basic network. We would have added software that will translate their original system to connect to oneM2M. We don’t mess with the edges. Think of it like the phone system. Nobody thinks about whether they will all work together. You can use anything on the edge—an iPhone, a landline, Skype, PBX, they all work. Standard communications and interfaces are what lets this work.”

Brennan adds that oneM2M is not issuing standards itself. “We build specifications that will be published as standards by telecom standards organizations in Asia, the U.S. and Europe. The communications providers are saying this is how we will tie together the Internet of things.”

Dr Omar Elloumi, head of M2M and Smart Grid standards at Alcatel-Lucent and oneM2M technical plenary chair, says, “The horizontal service platform we have created is already useable over several underlying transport technologies, such as Wi-Fi, fixed-line and cellular. This reduces the complexity for the M2M application developer, allows lower CAPEX and OPEX for the service providers and creates a world where ultimately people will interact more seamlessly with other people and machines in their daily lives.”

The service providers will be the major users of oneM2M says Brennan, although “an enterprise or enterprise association could also host this technology. It’s unlikely that an end user will use it, but there will be open source implementations of this. It should be very adoptable. Even end users could do it. The fact is they could bridge back into legacy networks. We would not mess with the network, but interface with the application programming interface. Then we can connect and include those as if they were part of the Internet of Things.” 

Significantly, it is major telecom organization that are among the founding members of one M2M. Partner standards development organizations include ARIB (Japan), ATIS (U.S.), CCSA (China), ETSI (Europe), TIA (U.S.), TTA (Korea) and TTC (Japan). Additional partners contributing to the oneM2M work include the BBF (Broadband Forum), Continua, HGI (Home Gateway Initiative), the New Generation M2M Consortium‐Japan and OMA (Open Mobile Alliance).

Adoption is already beginning. LG U+ and SK Telecom of Korea announced last December that they will make the first commercial deployments of Internet of Things (IoT) platforms based on oneM2M specifications. Membership in oneM2M is at nearly 200 companies, including such heavy hitters as Ericsson and Alcatel-Lucent, Verizon, Sprint, NIST, Robert Bosch GmbH, Sony, Samsung and IBM Europe.

The next step after the publication of Release 1 is to work on a list of enhancements and interfaces for some of the most widely used IoT protocols, says Brennan. “A larger library of interfaces is the number one idea for us,” he adds. “We also want to reinforce security and management capability. Security, management and scaling are the big things. Most companies don’t have answers for that regarding the IoT. We’re working on those things.”  


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