India’s leading telecom public sector unit (PSU), Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL), has reportedly signed a machine-to-machine (M2M) communication deal with Mumbai-based automobile manufacturer Tata Motors for supplying embedded SIM cards to transform the automaker’s vehicles into smart cars.
Smart cars do not necessarily entail autonomous or self-driving but provide internet connectivity for services such as real-time traffic information, safety services for emergency response, with an improved navigation system.
According to an ET report citing BSNL chairman Anupam Shrivastava, 5 Lakh SIM cards have already been supplied to the automaker, while another 10 Lakh will be supplied in a year’s time. With the initiative, Tata Motors is expected to convert its car models such as Tiago, Hexa, and the newly unveiled SUV Harrier into smart cars.
Srivastava estimated that facilitating M2M communication could bring telcos at least INR 20 per SIM on a monthly basis, which would potentially translate into a sizeable INR 1,200 Cr ($168.7 Mn) revenue opportunity annually.
In February last year, the telecom department had asked the BSNL and other telcos to start issuing 13-digit M2M SIM cards with effect from July 1, 2018. This was done without changing the existing mobile numbering plan.
Apart from being used in smart cars, M2M SIM is also used for controlling various IoT devices such as surveillance cameras, child-tracking devices, smart electric metres, household appliances, monitors, sensors, and other smart devices.
Currently, autonomous cars are the most radical examples of M2M communication technology. US electric carmaker Tesla Motors Inc and Germany’s Daimler AG have already manufactured such cars.
On the other hand, British telecommunications company Vodafone, under its ‘V-SIM’ initiative, has been able to implement its IoT SIM in 32 countries. It provides an onboard diagnostics (OBD)-based dongle, which can be plugged into a user’s car and provides automatic emergency features such as real-time tracking, etc.
According to a joint report by Assocham-EY, the country’s IoT market is estimated to bring in revenues worth $11.1 Bn by 2022. The BSNL, with over 113 Mn mobile subscribers in the country, is all set to explore this opportunity with its M2M SIM communication products.