China accounts for almost half of global cellular IoT connections
Study finds China Mobile accounted for 32% of total cellular IoT connections at the end of Q3 2017
Mobile operators in China had more than 46% of global IoT cellular connections at the end of the third quarter of 2017, according to a recent study by research firm Counterpoint.
China Mobile, the world’s largest mobile telco in terms of subscribers, leaded the IoT market at the end of the period. Outside China, U.K.-based telco Vodafone dominated the market, according to the study.
According to the latest research from Counterpoint’s IoT service, global IoT cellular connections grew 41% annually to the end of 3Q 2017, having already crossed the half billion mark earlier in 2017.
“Cellular IoT acts as the backbone in driving secure connectivity for different devices to the internet and across different verticals. The type of access used will depend on the nature of the application. 3GPP WAN technologies like 2G, 3G, 4G LTE and upcoming 5G technologies, operate in licensed spectrum and have primarily targeted high-quality mobile voice and data services,” Counterpoint’s research analyst, Satyajit Sinha, said.
“However, they are being complemented with new functionality and the new radio access standards like EC-GSM, LTE-M and NB-IoT, specifically tailored to be an attractive solution for emerging low power wide area (LPWA) applications that will be the key IoT connectivity drivers alongside 5G in coming years.”
4G LTE connections accounted for more than half of global cellular IoT connections at the end of September 2017. 4G LTE supports IoT with legacy 4G and LTE-Cat1 connections. The main application areas are for energy utilities and remote asset monitoring, according to the study. However, going forward most of these applications will be supported by cellular LPWA technologies like EC-GSM, LTE-M and NB-IoT, especially for low-power, low-data, battery-powered use-cases. These cellular LPWA connections are in the early deployment or trial phase and amount to less than 1% of the total cellular IoT connections, according to the research firm.
China Mobile accounted for 32% of the global mobile IoT connections at end-Q3 2017. The telco has announced plans to roll-out NB-IoT technology to further exploit the IoT opportunities. In August 2017, China Mobile issued requests for proposals for two NB-IoT projects, worth a combined total of CYN 39.6 billion ($ 6 billion) to achieve nation-wide NB-IoT commercialization by early 2018
Vodafone grew 37% year-on-year in terms of cellular IoT connections and holds the second position with 10.9% market share. As of Q3 2017, Vodafone had launched NB-IoT in four countries including, The Netherlands, Ireland, Czech Republic and Spain. Vodafone added commercial NB-IoT networks in Turkey and Australia in early Q4 2017.
China Unicom grew 39% YoY and holds third position with 9.4 % market share at end-September 2017. China Unicom announced pre-commercialization of NB-IoT in May last year. China Unicom has been testing this technology in Shanghai during last year.
AT&T grew 23% year-on-year in Q3 2017 and holds the fourth position with 6.4 % market share. AT&T’s LPWA IoT strategy currently is focusing on LTE-M, which the operator began rolling out in Q2 2017 with initial applications being asset tracking and smart meters.
The fifth position is occupied by China Telecom, with a 5% market share. The firm’s overall cellula IoT connections grew 17% year-on-year in Q3. China Telecom’s NB-IoT network currently covers over 800 million people across China.
Asia dominates the cellular IoT market, with 57.2% of total connections at the end of the period. China is the major contributor with 81% of total Asian connections. Japan accounted for 5% of cellular IoT connections at end-Q3 while South Korea ended the quarter with a market share of 2%
Americas grew 20% YoY and holds second position with a 19.6% share. The U.S’ s four operators account for 68% of the connections in the Americas region. AT&T and Verizon are the only US operators that have so far commercialised LTE-M networks. Within the U.S market, these two operators hold 72.5% of IoT cellular connections, according to the study.