Low Power Wide Area (LPWA) networks are now globally available on licensed spectrum in 49 markets around the world following launches on both LTE-M and NB-IoT technology by 50 different mobile operators, the GSMA announced.

In a statement ahead of MWC19 Barcelona, the mobile industry association provided an update on current uptake of LPWA, stating there have been 93 launches of NB-IoT and LTE-M networks so far, with coverage expected to reach 93 per cent of the world’s largest IoT markets by Q2.

By 2025, GSMA Intelligence forecast there will be 3.5 billion cellular IoT connections, 1.9 billion of which will be on licensed LPWA technology.

Breaking out the two major technologies, GSMA said there have been 68 NB-IoT launches in 45 markets and 25 launches of LTE-M networks in 19 markets.

Upon initial launch of LPWA networks in 2017, NB-IoT proved to be the technology of choice in Europe while major players in North America pursued LTE-M. However, some operators have recently said they are also switching on LTE-M to run alongside NB-IoT, including European giants Vodafone Group and Deutsche Telekom.

Alex Sinclair, CTO of the GSMA, said the speed at which the networks “have been standardised and deployed around the world is staggering”.

“They are now available in every major IoT market encouraging the development of innovative new products and services across a wide range of sectors.”

He added that the market clearly sees the benefits of solutions in licensed spectrum, which offer “flexibility, adaptability, security and lower cost”.

“They are also future-proofed for the 5G era and will support and co-exist with other 5G technologies,” he added.