U.S. Cellular Operators Success in Key M2M Markets Could Be Jeopardized by Distraction and IoT Hype

U.S. Cellular Operators Success in Key M2M Markets Could Be Jeopardized by Distraction and IoT Hype

ABI Research Identifies the real challenges and opportunities for U.S. Network Operators.

A new report by ABI Research forecasts that the U.S. cellular M2M market will grow beyond 300 million connections by 2022.

As U.S. network operators rush to deploy the latest LTE technologies, new competition is emerging. In this report, ABI Research identifies the key strategies and challenges facing the top four mobile operators: Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile.

Total M2M connections at the end of 2016 were as follows:

  • Verizon: 23.85 million
  • AT&T: 30.32 million
  • Sprint: 14.90 million
  • T-Mobile: 13.58 million

The latest distractions facing the U.S. cellular M2M market include disruptive new LPWA technologies that are being positioned as competitive to cellular, increased interest in private network opportunities, and the on-going debate on the merits of licensed and unlicensed spectrum. “Carrier grade support and service is essential for mission-critical enterprise applications,” says Kevin McDermott, Principal Analyst at ABI Research.

“Some of the biggest opportunities and drivers for cellular operators are in telematics and asset tracking; coverage and low latency are the essential requirements for these fast-growing segments.”

In fact, the U.S. market adoption of technologies around connected cars is the main driver for the new applications that will benefit U.S. cellular operators, if they don’t get distracted by other technologies. Of the current 82.65 million cellular connected M2M devices at the end of 2016, 68.5% are related to telematics and other transportation applications.

LTE, which includes LTE Cat-M and Narrow-Band Internet of Things (NB-IoT), is expected to become the largest network standard for the IoT in the United States offering a range of options for data rates, range, and node power efficiency.

Competitive announcements from Comcast supporting long range wireless (LoRa) is a first for a mainstream provider in the U.S. market and a huge distraction for the top four U.S. mobile operators. “Comcast is building on the back of its two main network assets: backhaul infrastructure and successful Wi-Fi hotspot deployments. Comcast has reported its hotspot program has surpassed 16 million, and they are actively developing an M2M strategy,” McDermott points out.

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