Verizon Communications Inc’s recent purchases of two vehicle tracking firms could spark more deals as the No. 1 wireless provider and rival AT&T see fleet management as a source of growth, analysts said.
Faced with a saturated wireless market, several telecom companies are looking beyond their main phone business for ways to extract more value from existing networks. Just last month, Verizon bought Yahoo for $4.8 billion, diving into digital media and advertising.
But Verizon also recently acquired privately held connected-vehicle technology firm Telogis for an undisclosed sum and said it would buy GPS vehicle tracking company Fleetmatics Group Plc for $2.4 billion.
Telecom providers are moving towards acquiring “eyeballs or a fleet of people” that can use applications built on top of the wireless network, said Richard McBee, chief executive officer of Canadian communications technology company Mitel Networks Corp .
The fleet and mobile workforce management business connects fleet vehicles to the wireless network and collects data, like driver behavior, to manage vehicles and workers. The business delivers a source of recurring subscription-based revenue from clients such as large logistics companies and local delivery services.
After buying Fleetmatics and Telogis, Verizon could be on the lookout for a security or software technology firm to pair with its data-heavy automotive technology business, Susan Beardslee, analyst at ABI Research, said. Potential targets could be Israel-based cyber security firm Argus and software management company Movimento, she added.
Rival AT&T has its own fleet management business and could look into buying fleet tracking firms such as Teletrac Navman, Omnitracs, Geotab and Zonar, analysts said.
Verizon, Argus, Movimento, AT&T, Omnitracs and Zonar Systems declined to comment. Teletrac Navman and Geotab could not be immediately reached for comment.
While Verzion’s second-quarter revenue of $31 billion dwarfs that of Telogis and Fleetmatics, both firms are expected to grow quickly. Fleetmatics reported $285 million in sales last year and is seen growing at an annual revenue rate of 15% to 20%.
Fleet management businesses may also get a boost from a recent federal regulation that mandates that companies digitally record driver work hours with electronic devices, analysts said.