2017 was a banner year for the IoT, especially for LPWA (Low Power, Wide Area) technologies including NB-IoT and LTE-M.
According to the GSMA, the deployment of LPWA solutions started to gain traction with recent developments by some leading operators including AT&T, China Mobile, China Unicom, China Telecom, Deutsche Telekom (DT), Verizon, and Vodafone. By end-November there were 28 commercial LPWA networks on licensed spectrum, a number expected to reach 35 by February in 2018.
China to lead LPWA deployments
In Asia, mobile operators are stepping up their efforts to deploy IoT networks using LPWA, especially the emerging NB-IoT technology.
China is set to be one of the leading LPWA markets, accounting for 486 million of the estimated 3.1 billion connections globally by 2025, according to research firm Gartner. It also features in the global development of cellular IoT in terms of both network launches and ecosystem developer partners.
The country’s three major operators have use LPWA technologies to deliver commercial solutions in licensed spectrum to accelerate adoption and transform the development of the IoT in areas such as agriculture, automotive, and utilities. China Mobile launched NB-IoT networks in several key cities while China Unicom introduced NB-IoT networks in Shanghai as well as Guangzhou, Shenzhen, and Fuzhou-uses include smart parking, smart fire sensors, and smart meters. China Telecom also announced the roll-out of nationwide NB-IoT networks.
The deployment of LPWA is expected to drive the country’s IoT/M2M connection to exceed one billion connections by 2020, according to a new report released by GSMA Intelligence and the China Academy of Information and Communications Technology (CAICT).
China is now the world’s largest M2M market with approximately 100 million cellular M2M connections, a figure that is expected to increase to 350 million by 2020. An additional 730 million connections will be enabled by LPWA technology, taking the total figure to just over one billion. By 2025, 50% of the world’s 28 billion connected devices will be suitable for connection by LPWA networks.
“With government support, China has quickly become the world’s largest M2M market,” says Alex Sinclair, CTO, GSMA. “LPWA will play a fundamental part of its future growth.”
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