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Chinese Operators in control of 46% of global IoT cellular connections: Counterpoint

At the end of 3Q 2017, Chinese operators dominated the market holding more than 46% of IoT cellular connections. China Mobile was the world’s leading operator in terms of IoT connections. However, outside China, Vodafone leads in IoT cellular connectivity globally.


According to the latest research from Counterpoint’s IoT (Internet of Things) service, global IoT cellular connections grew 41% annually by the end of 3Q 2017, having already crossed the half a billion mark earlier in 2017.


Commenting on the latest research on IoT connectivity, Counterpoint’s Research Analyst Satyajit Sinha noted, “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 GSM (2G), WCDMA (3G), 4G LTE and upcoming 5G technologies, operate in licensed spectrum and have primarily targeted high-quality mobile voice and data services. However, they are being complemented with new functionality and the new radio access standards like EC-GSM, LTE-M and narrowband IoT (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 the coming years.”


Sinha, further added, “As at the end of 3Q 2017, 4G LTE connections were leading, accounting for more than half the cellular IoT connections and registering 84% YoY growth. Today, 4G LTE supports IoT with legacy 4G and LTE-Cat1 connections. The main application areas are for Energy Utilities and Remote Asset Monitoring. 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.”


Highlighting the cellular IoT connectivity opportunity and value, Research Director Neil Shah notes, “Cellular IoT operators are well-positioned to become a single and preferred source for IoT solutions by bundling IoT devices, secure connectivity, platform and data management. While some operators might lead in offering end-to-end IoT solutions for specific verticals, e.g. connected cars or asset tracking, for some verticals operators will still depend on system integrators and other solution providers to help customers deploy the complete solution. Having said that, operators are better positioned to capture maximum value in IoT, unlike in the smartphone space where much of the business opportunity was captured by OTT players. We should see a more integrated play by the leading operators in the IoT space in mid- to long-term, at least in some application areas.”


China Mobile grew 21% QoQ and leads the market with 32% share of connections. China Mobile has leapfrogged global operators, exercising enormous domestic scale, quickly transitioning to 4G LTE IoT connections and now aggressively rolling out NB-IoT connections to further exploit the IoT opportunities. China Mobile was a bit late starting its NB-IoT service but is now aggressively pursuing the service rollout.


Tags: Chinese Operators, IoT cellular connections, Counterpoint, iot, internet of things, IoT solutions, China Mobile, nb iot , Satyajit Sinha counterpoint, cellular iot, varindia