LONDON The Flint Group has launched Mobius Communications, an airtime provider focussed purely on machine to machine (M2M) cellular communications which is based around an agreement with Vodafone which makes it the sole UK distributor for Vodafone data SIMs.
Mobius airtime provides data-only users access to a billing structure and to network features designed specifically to address the M2M market. Doug Gilmour, sales and marketing director at Mobius, said, “We find that many customers are using SIMs on voice contracts, an approach with significant drawbacks for both the customer and the airtime provider. As a Vodafone airtime provider, we can offer customers a single cost-effective contract for the whole of their data estate as well as features such as a VPN enabling the use of fixed IP addresses with reduced security risk.” Mobius airtime offers M2M users a transparent contract structure, designed specifically to offer a cost-effective solution for data transmission. Contracts can include a fixed cost for the term of the contract, with details of contracted data, additional data, and even fixing pricing for SMS and GSM usage.
Data volume is contracted for the whole estate, rather than per SIM, giving users the flexibility to vary demand within a simple and predictable cost structure. To prevent a remote unit from creating data in error, however, a limit can be imposed on the amount of data each SIM can use avoiding uncontrolled costs. Customers can elect to receive an alert or even suspend a SIM until the source of problem is identified. Mobius is a fully-authorised Vodafone airtime provider, not a service provider or a virtual operator. This status gives it direct access to the Vodafone System and can generate billing information down to a single transaction level if required. Should a fault develop, Mobius is also able to access a particular SIM directly and find its status. Mobius has invested in the infrastructure providing its customers with its own Virtual Private Network (VPN). With a combination of VPN and GPRS, customers can have a live, always-on link from a remote unit to the back office, giving instant, secure access at no cost – the only charge is for the data transmitted. This eliminates the need for the remote unit to dial in at prearranged times, or through a prompt from an SMS. It also allows users to allocate a fixed IP address to their remote units, without being exposed to the risk of spam or hacking. For short messages, an enhanced form of SMS known as ‘Data Direct’ is available. It allows users to track and prove delivery of messages, adding a vital element of control to a low cost and effective means of communication. For data estates with an international dimension, Mobius can provide contracts with a guaranteed cost of roaming. If a VPN is used the roaming charges over the initial 1 Meg can be billed in smaller increments to keep a tighter control of costs. Where remote units are permanently based in one country abroad, Mobius can source local SIMs. Mobius will aims to supply a variety of customers and will also work with other the other Flint Group subsidiaries including Spectre, which delivers wireless and wireline communications solutions, and Secure Retail which focuses on smart card, printer and display technologies for kiosk, retail and corporate security markets.