China is currently the world’s largest M2M market with approximately 100 million cellular M2M connections, a figure that is expected to increase to 350 million by 2020. However, an additional 730 million connections will be enabled by LPWA technology, taking the total figure to just over one billion. By 2025, it is expected that 50 per cent of the world’s 28 billion connected devices will 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, chief technology officer, GSMA.
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 GSMA 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) – will cover all LPWA use cases, ensuring customer choice and helping the IoT market to flourish.
Licensed LPWA networks complement and extend conventional wide area networks, which make use of 2G and 4G cellular technologies, as well as local area networks such as WiFi, Bluetooth and Zigbee. These licensed standards allow operators to optimise their existing mobile network infrastructure through an upgrade to EC-GSM-IoT for 2G networks and LTE-MTC for LTE networks, while NB-IoT can use both 2G and 4G spectrum.
Backed by 36 global mobile operators, device makers and chipset, module and infrastructure companies, the GSMA Mobile IoT initiative is working to accelerate the development of LPWA solutions and is supporting multiple global pilots with full commercial solutions expected in market later this year.