LIVE FROM GSMA MOBILE WORLD CONGRESS SHANGHAI 2016: China’s machine-to-machine (M2M) market will reach one billion connections by 2020, with the majority coming from the developing low-power wide area (LPWA) market.
China, already by far the world’s largest mobile market, is also the top M2M market, with about 100 million cellular M2M connections, a figure that is expected to increase to 350 million by 2020, according to GSMA Intelligence and the China Academy of Information and Communications Technology (CAICT).
However, an additional 730 million connections will be enabled by LPWA technology, taking the total figure to just over one billion.
By 2025, 50 per cent of the world’s 28 billion connected devices are expected to be suitable for connection by LPWA networks.
“With government support, China has quickly become the world’s largest M2M market, and LPWA will play a fundamental part of its future growth, presenting new opportunities for key industry sectors and for operators to provide connectivity across the country,” said Alex Sinclair, GSMA CTO.
He said the GSMA’s Mobile IoT Initiative is working with China’s mobile operators to deliver commercial LPWA solutions in licensed spectrum, to accelerate adoption and transform the development of IoT in areas such as agriculture, automotive and utilities.
LPWA networks are designed for M2M applications that have low data rates, require long battery lives and operate unattended for long periods of time, often in remote locations. The Mobile IoT Initiative has coalesced the industry behind global technology standards in licensed spectrum for the LPWA market, which have now been published by 3GPP.
Three complementary technologies – narrow-band IoT (NB-IoT), EC-GSM-IOT and LTE machine type communication (LTE-MTC) – are claimed to cover all LPWA use cases, ensuring customer choice and driving the IoT ecosystem.
Rival proprietary technologies (using unlicensed spectrum) such as Sigfox, LoRa and Ingenu have enjoyed earlier entry to market and racked up commercial deals. The LPWA market is therefore expected to be a hotbed of competition once official 3GPP-backed cellular LPWA kit is available.