Machine-to-machine (M2M) services have an optimistic long-term outlook in the Indian market. Driven by various government programmes such as Digital India, Make in India and Startup India, the M2M/internet of things (IoT) space is set to see high growth in the coming years. Further, several mega projects being undertaken by the government will help in effective and sustainable utilisation of resources throu­gh the application of M2M/IoT technology. Some of these proj­ects are the urban development ministry’s 100 Smart Cities project, the power ministry’s project for setting up 14 smart grid pilots and the road transport ministry’s project mandating commercial passenger vehicles with more than 22 seating capacity to be equipped with global positioning system.

The M2M ecosystem comprises a large number of diverse players deploying innovative services across different networks, technologies and devices. Thus, clarity and consistency in regulations for equivalent services as well as policies that enable grow­th are crucial for fully leveraging the opportunities offered by this market.

The Department of Telecomm­unica­tions (DoT) had launched the National Telecom M2M Roadmap in May 2015 after seeking inputs from select industry stakeholders. The roadmap focuses on the communication aspects of M2M, with the aim of putting in place interoperable standards, policies and regulations suited for Indian conditions across sectors. In addition, DoT’s Telecom Engineering Centre (TEC) has come out with nine technical reports on M2M, detailing specific requ­ire­­ments/use cases for carrying out gap analysis and future action plans with possible models of service delivery.

Against this background, DoT had, in January 2016, sought the recommendations of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) on three aspects related to M2M communications – quality of service (QoS) in M2M services, M2M roaming requirements and M2M spectrum requirements. While the regulator is still working on these areas, it has recently released the “Consultation Paper on Spectrum, Roam­ing and QoS-related Requirements in M2M Communications in India”. Besides touching on the aforementioned three as­pects, the paper looks at certain other regulatory aspects, including the licensing framework for M2M service providers, know-your-customer (KYC) norms for M2M devices, numbering scheme, interoperability of devices between different sectors, technical challenges in implementation, allocation and utilisation of network codes, data protection and privacy. All these issues need to be deliberated upon for pre­paring comprehensive recommendations for the M2M communication framework of the country.

Issues for consultation

While DoT/TEC is already working on KYC norms, interoperability and numbering of M2M devices in consultation with the industry, the current paper solicits stakeholder views on the following areas:

Regulatory framework

  • Framework for the introduction of M2M service providers in the sector – should it be through amendments to the existing licences of access service/internet service provider licensees, and/or through licensing authorisation in the existing unified licence (UL) and UL virtual network operator licence, or should it be kept under the other service provider category registration.
  • Details pertaining to entry fee, per­form­a­nce bank guarantee/financial bank guara­ntee in case a licensing framework for managed service provi­ders (MSPs) is proposed.

Spectrum band

  • Suitable spectrum bands and quantum of spectrum required for M2M communication.
  • Technical feasibility of allocating a part of the 10 MHz centre gap between up­­link and downlink in the 700 MHz band for M2M communication as the de­li­­­censed band for short-range applications.

National/International roaming

  • Tariff determination for national roaming on M2M/IoT devices.
  • International roaming policy for machines that can communicate in the M2M ecosystem.
  • Feasibility of allocating separate mobile network codes to MSPs to provide ope­rational and roaming flexibility to the latter.

Security and privacy of data

  • The adequacy of the existing measures taken for network and data security in the M2M context.
  • Methods in which M2M service providers can ensure the protection of consumer interest and data privacy.
  • Proposed changes, if any, to the Infor­mation Technology Act, 2000, and relevant licence conditions to protect the security and privacy of an individual.

QoS issues

  • Parameters to define different types of service level agreements at points of in­ter­­connect at various layers of HetNets.


M2M communication is expected to percolate down to all facets of human life in the next 10-15 years, and will prove to be a veritable game changer for the industry and the economy at large. Thus, it is vital to have a policy framework in place, in time, so as to promote the technology and ensure that its full benefits reach citizens.