If you want to know why mobile service providers are so interested in internet of things, this graph suggests a key reason: sales of services and products to human beings using mobile phones is near saturation, and actually went to negative growth rates on two continents in the first quarter of 2018.
On other continents, growth rates were in low single digits. Africa and Asia are the two continents where double-digit growth continues to happen.
Projections of potential IoT connectivity revenue also suggest why many tier-one service providers will be looking beyond connectivity, at other parts of the ecosystem, for new revenue and roles. Simply put, most IoT connections will not use the mobile networks.
Though mobile internet of things connectivity will grow fast, most of the connections will use some other form of connectivity, a couple of new forecasts suggest. However, by about 2023, mobile connections might take leadership, in terms of new sales.
That should provide a major warning for service providers who see a huge bonanza from internet of things connectivity revenue.
In 2017, almost three-quarters of all low power wide area network connections used non-cellular LPWA network technologies. By “2023, non-cellular LPWA will cede its market share dominance to NB-IoT and LTE-M, as cellular LPWA moves to capture over 55 percent of LPWA connections,” say researchers at ABI Research.
The Ericsson Mobility Report has about doubled its forecast for mobile network IoT connections, mostly due to ongoing large-scale deployments in China. Of the 3.5 billion cellular IoT connections forecast for 2023, North East Asia is anticipated to account for 2.2 billion, Ericsson says.
That noted, in 2023, Ericsson estimates that mobile IoT connections will represent 15 percent of IoT connections, with short-range networks handling as much as 67 percent of links.
Asset tracking, which includes tracking stationary or slow-moving assets, will have the largest share of LPWA connections in 2023, accounting for over 45 percent worldwide, ABI Research predicts.
Smart meters deployed by energy and water utilities will be the second largest vertical IoT application in 2023 contributing over one-third of the global LPWA device connections.
In 2017, SIGFOX had the largest share of public LPWA connections worldwide benefiting from its first mover advantage in Europe.