Momentum behind low power wide area technologies (LPWA) continues to grow, with more than 40 LTE-M and NB-IoT networks deployed globally and the latter standard chalking up the most number of rollouts, industry association GSMA announced.

In a statement, the association revealed 23 mobile operators have commercially launched 41 licensed LPWA networks across 26 countries to-date, less than two years after the low power IoT technologies were standardised by 3GPP in June 2016.

Providing a breakdown of deployments, GSMA said 32 NB-IoT networks have been launched and nine LTE-M networks.

Among some of the major worldwide deployments, US operators AT&T and Verizon have rolled out LTE-M networks nationwide, while NB-IoT proved more popular with European operators. China’s big three – China Mobile, China Unicom and China Mobile – are also seeing rapid growth in IoT connections through NB-IoT.

GSMA CTO Alex Sinclair tipped 2018 to be the year “that mobile IoT networks will scale”.

“We have seen huge growth in the availability of commercial networks by licensed spectrum and anticipate seeing many more launches this year,” he said.

Sinclair also appeared to shrug off the competition the market continues to face from non-standardised offerings, such as those developed by proprietary IoT player Sigfox and the France-based LoRA alliance.

“Mobile IoT networks are fast becoming the de facto global IoT solution, as only licensed, managed mobile services can provide the secure low power connection that can meet future demand,” he added.

GSMA Intelligence forecast there will be 3.1 billion cellular IoT connections by 2025, including 1.8 billion licensed LPWA connections.

IoT Labs 
The GSMA added mobile IoT growth is being supported by its IoT lab initiative, and an expanding community of more than 800 organisations participating in the association’s Mobile IoT Innovators Community.

There are now 34 IoT Labs in operation around the world, which are available to any operator, module vendor or application provider to develop LPWA devices and applications for a wide variety of different verticals.