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To enable full mechanical automation where each smart device can play multiple roles among sensor, decision maker, and action executor, it is essential to construct scrupulous connections among all devices. Machine-to-machine communications thus emerge to achieve ubiquitous communications among all devices. With the merit of providing higher-layer connections, scenarios of 3GPP have been regarded as the promising solution facilitating M2M communications, which is being standardized as an emphatic application to be supported by LTE-Advanced. However, distinct features in M2M communications create diverse challenges from those in human-to-human communications. To deeply understand M2M communications in 3GPP, in this article, we provide an overview of the network architecture and features of M2M communications in 3GPP, and identify potential issues on the air interface, including physical layer transmissions, the random access procedure, and radio resources allocation supporting the most critical QoS provisioning. An effective solution is further proposed to provide QoS guarantees to facilitate M2M applications with inviolable hard timing constraints.