Over the last decade we have heard numerous reports of future explosive growth of Internet of things devices but there has been small and fragmented adoption at home or business. Is this just being over hyped? Let’s discuss if we are truly in a hype bubble or will IoT deliver real growth and revenue for mobile operators.
The Ericsson Mobility report states that in 2017 there are already 7.7 billion IoT devices in total but only 700,000 of them are connected to cellular networks. These non-cellular IoT devices are locally connected using technologies like Ethernet, RFID, Bluetooth, Zig Bee or Wi-Fi. So there has been explosive growth overall in IoT but mobile operators have not benefited from this growth.
Ericsson estimates that only 10% of the devices connected to mobile networks are IoT devices and the rest of the Mobile phones, Tablets and laptops. So the first wave of IoT growth has mostly bypassed mobile operators but don’t go ignoring the second and more important wave of IoT growth.
NB-IoT and LTE-M technology to the rescue
2G, 3G and 4G technology was not well suited for IoT applications. There was some usage but not the explosive growth that mobile operators required to bolster top line revenue and increase bottom line profitability. Most chipsets for cellular communication were designed for higher bandwidth, burst of continuous usage and voice communications. Most IoT applications target by cellular technology require lower bandwidth, infrequent usage and very long battery life (10 years).
The industry saw this and came up with LTE-M and NB-IoT technology for these important use cases. LTE-M and NB-IoT provide low bandwidth with very long battery life that can be designed of up to 10 year of usage running off a battery. LTE-M and NB-IoT first was specified in 3GPP release 13 in late 2015 and networks supporting these technologies are just becoming available.
GSMA tracks deployments and commercial launches of networks supporting LTE-M and NB-IoT devices. In just a couple of years over 60 operators have launched commercial operations in support of this important IoT technology.
So what is the answer hype or reality?
The ultimate answer is yes it’s both hype and reality. IoT use cases, deployments and devices will explode in the coming year. Ericsson estimates that there will be 3.5 billion IoT devices attached to cellular networks by 2023. Compound annual growth will be 30% for IoT devices. The percentage IoT devices on cellular networks will be slightly more than 30% of the overall devices connected. Operator will need this to stabilize revenues and increase profitability
What should I do now?
Get ready, new customers, new use cases and new devices are going to place new and important connectivity, mobility, roaming and security requirements on mobile operators.
Chose global roaming partner that can provide value added services to help accelerate your IoT journey. As new IoT technologies get introduced, not all use cases and business cases will make sense initially. Mobile network operators need a partner who can provide testing, consulting, knowledge, layer security and hosted value added services that helps provide the operator more business clarity.
IBasis is viewed at global trusted partner to help provide global reach, assurance and monetization of key mobile services. IBasis stands ready to provide expertise, advice and testing to accelerate deployments of new IoT technologies and explore possible new business models. IBasis brings collaboration by partnership, adaptability and excellence.
Contact us for discussing further how we can help to solve issues in global IoT deployment through our test environment.