How cellular will be key to sorting the IoT standardisation wars

A new study conducted by the GSMA and InterDigital has highlighted some important transitions in the field of IoT that have started to become a reality with everyday deployment of the technology.

The report, titled ‘Mobile and the Internet of Things: Unanimity Around Fragmentation, Surprises In Connectivity And Geography’, notes that the various transitions include: the key role of the 3GPP standards-based technology in IoT; expectation that North America will become world leader in IoT; and the current small scale of IoT revenue, along with prospects for rapid growth.

The report states that the successful deployment of the IoT will be majorly depended on cellular technologies like 5G, LTE, NB-IoT and GSM. There are six of the top seven connectivity technologies that emerged from 3GPP standards. One third of respondents agreed that by 2023, 5G would likely become the most important connectivity technology for the IoT. Only 4% of respondents considered Wi-Fi as the most important connectivity option for the IoT. Nearly half of respondents believe that IoT accounts for less than 1% of their current revenues, and are expecting it to account for 20% of operator revenues by 2023.

Jim Nolan, EVP products at InterDigital, said: “There's no doubt that the IoT will play a significant role in society over the next 10 years, and the expectations for IoT revenue support that. And while this research revealed a few surprises, it also confirmed things we knew already - namely, the importance of standardization for the future of the IoT. With such a high proportion of respondents seeing fragmentation as a significant challenge, it's important that the mobile industry come together to make standardization a reality.”

In June, ABI Research predicted that cellular and non-cellular low power wide-area (LPWA) network connections will grow globally at a CAGR of 53% until 2023. This growth will be driven by growth in smart meters and asset trackers, with the continued battle for dominance between the primary standards, NB-IoT, CAT-M, Sigfox and LoRa, also fuelling the rise. The study shows that in 2017, smart meters and asset trackers contributed to almost three-quarters of all LPWA network connections, dominated by non-cellular LPWA network technologies. But by 2023, non-cellular LPWA will be seen giving up its market share dominance to NB-IoT and LTE-M, as cellular LPWA moves to capture over 55% of LPWA connections.

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