Cellular and LPWA IoT Device Market to Record Strong Growth Through 2023

ResearchAndMarkets.com has released the 3rd Edition of its “Cellular and LPWA IoT Device Ecosystems” report. According to the report, IoT is weaving a new world wide web of interconnected objects. At the end of 2018, approximately 1.3 billion devices were connected to wide area networks based on cellular or LPWA technologies. The market is highly diverse and divided into multiple ecosystems. The new report focuses on the four most prominent technology ecosystems for wide area IoT networking - the 3GPP ecosystem of cellular technologies, the emerging LPWA technologies LoRa and Sigfox and the 802.15.4 ecosystem.

The 3GPP family of cellular technologies supports the biggest ecosystem in wide area IoT networking. Market experts estimated that the global number of cellular IoT subscribers increased by 70.0 percent during 2018 to reach 1.2 billion at the end of the year - corresponding to around 13.0 percent of all mobile subscribers. Yearly shipments of cellular IoT devices increased by 76.2 percent in 2018 to reach 651.9 million units. Growth was fuelled by an exceptional market expansion in China, where the installed base of cellular IoT connections increased by 124.1 percent year-on-year to reach 767.0 million at the end of 2018.

The cellular IoT technology landscape is in a phase of rapid transformation. Developments in China accelerate a global shift from 2G/3G to 4G technologies. As the initial focus for 5G will be high-bandwidth applications, there are believes that 4G will become the preferred platform for IoT in the foreseeable future. The move from 2G to 4G began in North America with 3G as an intermediate technology. The region has seen rapid uptake of LTE CAT-1 since 2017 and CAT-M starting in 2018 at the same time as GPRS and CDMA are fading away.

Europe began to see adoption of LTE CAT-1 in 2018 and is now followed by an accelerated uptake of LTE-M and NB-IoT in 2019/2020. China is moving fast from GPRS to NB-IoT in the mass-market segment and cumulative NB-IoT shipments are expected to exceed 190 million units by the end of 2019. At the same time, there will also be a fast-growing demand for LTE CAT-1 and LTE- M, as well as LTE CAT-3+. 2G and 3G will be in steady decline in all developed markets with demand shifting to developing countries with limited availability of 4G networks.

LoRa technology too is gaining momentum as a global connectivity platform for IoT devices. According to Semtech, the global installed base of LoRa devices was approximately 87 million at the beginning of 2019. The first major volume application segments are smart gas and water metering, where LoRa's low power consumption matches the requirements for long-life battery operation. It is also gaining traction for the metropolitan area and local area IoT deployments as a platform for networking smart sensors in cities, buildings, manufacturing plants and similar.

Semtech has stated that it generated in the range of US$ 78 million in revenues from LoRa chips in its financial year ending in January 2019 and expects to reach US$ 100-140 million in fiscal 2020. It is estimated that yearly shipments of LoRa devices were 36.3 million units in 2018. Until 2023, yearly shipments are forecasted to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 33.7 percent to reach 155.0 million units. While the Asia-Pacific region accounted for about 60 percent of total shipments in 2018, LoRa device shipments in Europe and North America are expected to scale into significant volumes in the coming years as early adopters move from pilots to large-scale deployments.

Sigfox has very ambitious plans for establishing the technology bearing the company's name as the leading global platform for ultra-narrow band IoT networks. In order to meet its strategic goals, Sigfox must be able to break into entirely new mass-volume device segments and prove its capability to create value by adding connectivity to things that never communicated before. At the end of 2018, Sigfox reported 6.2 million connected devices. In a positive scenario where early trials ramp up to large-scale commercial deployments, shipments of Sigfox devices are forecasted grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 63.1 percent from 3.8 million units in 2018 to 43.9 million units by 2023.

802.15.4 WAN is an established connectivity platform for private wide area wireless mesh networks used for applications such as smart metering. Faced with increasing competition from emerging LPWA standards, 802.15.4 WAN is however only expected to grow at moderate rate in the coming years. It is forecasted that shipments of 802.15.4 WAN devices will grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 19.3 percent from 19.3 million units in 2018 to 46.6 million units by 2023. Smart metering is expected to account for the bulk of demand. Wi-SUN is the leading industry standard for smart electricity metering networks in North America, with adoption also spreading to Asia-Pacific and Europe.

Click here to read this report.