Low Power Wide Area (LPWA) networks will surpass 2G, 3G and 4G connectivity to become the leading technology for the Internet of Things (IoT) in five years, industry body GSMA revealed.

In a statement, the GSMA said LPWA will power a total of 1.4 billion connections by 2022, citing new analysis from Machina Research. The figures underscore “how the industry has aligned behind standardised, complementary LPWA technologies such as NB-IoT and LTE-M”, the GSMA said.

Standards for NB-IoT and LTE-M were ratified by the 3GPP in June last year, along with a third technology, EC-GSM-IoT. To date NB-IoT is seeing strong support from operators in Europe and Asia, while LTE-M is proving popular in North America, where both AT&T and Verizon are backing the technology.

While commercial availability of standardised offerings currently lag behind non-cellular LPWA offerings (using unlicenced spectrum) such as Sigfox, LoRA and Igenu Networks’ Random Phase Multiple Access (RPMA) technology, Machina Research’s analysis indicates this will change rapidly.

The GSMA noted its mobile IoT initiative, which promotes the adoption of LPWA, is backed by 67 global operators, device makers, chipset, module and infrastructure companies.

GSMA CTO Alex Sinclair said 2017 will be a big year for LPWA commercial launches.

“There are already several mobile operators around the world running mobile IoT pilots, and this year, we’ll see commercial launches across a range of sectors, providing complete IoT connectivity and delivering service to billions of new devices.”