Machine-to-Machine (M2M) communications need standards—and the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) is taking the lead to make sure that the standards are in place—was the main conclusion from the recent ETSI M2M workshop. Reflecting the enormous potential that is foreseen for M2M applications and technologies, it was the most popular ETSI workshop to date with over 220 attendees from across the world.

Among the speakers and delegates were representatives from the world’s major telecommunication manufacturers and network operators, security companies, utilities, regulators, universities and research institutes. The workshop presented the current status of Machine-to-Machine standards work, both in ETSI and in other standards bodies, and examined how M2M capabilities will be a stepping stone toward the ‘Internet of Things’.

Participants heard how existing and evolving communication technologies networks, mostly wireless (cellular and low-power), but also fixed networks, including power line communications, provide a firm basis for connecting M2M sensors and applications. Specification of appropriate interfaces that allow network technology neutrality is a priority, and one that ETSI is already addressing.

The workshop included two live demonstrations organised by InterDigital Inc. These demonstrated an M2M gateway and core network, and an M2M Wireless Personal Area Network (sensors connecting via low-power wireless devices to a database, simulating e-Health, home automation and security application scenarios). The implementations were based on current specifications from ETSI’s M2M Technical Committee and confirmed both the effectiveness of the implications and of the ETSI specifications.

The standards work of ETSI’s M2M Technical Committee is reaching an advanced stage, and many network operators are encouraging a first release of M2M standards by early 2011. The committee is currently finalising the architecture for the service platform that will enable the integration of multiple vertical M2M applications. The workshop confirmed that ETSI is well placed to address a vital aspect of standardisation in support of M2M, the specification of interfaces that will facilitate the interconnection and interoperability of the diverse applications and of the networks that will underlie them.