Much as some mobile industry executives might prefer a single network platform that supports all conceivable apps--low bandwidth and high bandwidth; latency insensitive and latency dependent; low cost per bit and higher cost per bit; human and machine users; mobile and fixed--that does not seem likely to happen in the 5G era, Cisco believes.
It might well develop that low-bandwidth sensors, requiring unusually low connectivity prices, are best supported by an overlay IoT network, rather than some variant of either 4G or 5G networks.
Cisco sees specialized low power wide area (LPWA) networks will grow from seven percent in 2016 to 31 percent of device connections by 2021, with mobile operators deploying such networks as an overlay.
Globally, M2M connections will grow from 780 million in 2016 to 3.3 billion by 2021, a 34-percent compound annual growth rate, Cisco forecasts.
Wearable devices might normally be considered the category of IoT appliances that use mobile network connections the most. Maybe not. By 2021, Cisco estimates there will be 929 million wearable devices globally, growing nearly threefold from 325 million in 2016 at a CAGR of 23 percent.
But only about seven percent will have embedded cellular connectivity by 2021, up from three percent in 2016.