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Ericsson expects cellular IoT connections to reach 3.5 billion in 2023

Ericsson expects cellular IoT connections to reach 3.5 billion in 2023

The number of cellular IoT connections is expected to reach 3.5 billion in 2023 – increasing with an annual growth rate of 30 percent. The forecast for cellular IoT connections has almost doubled, due to ongoing large-scale deployments in China. Of the 3.5 billion cellular IoT connections forecast for 2023, North East Asia is anticipated to account for 2.2 billion.

Key findings:

  • The number of cellular IoT connections is expected to reach 3.5 billion in 2023. This is almost double our last forecast, due to ongoing large-scale deployments in China.
  • Of the 3.5 billion cellular IoT connections forecast for 2023, North East Asia is anticipated to account for 2.2 billion.
  • New massive cellular IoT technologies, such as NB-IoT and Cat-M1, are taking off and driving growth in the number of cellular IoT connections.
  • Mobile operators have commercially launched more than 60 cellular IoT networks worldwide using Cat-M1 and NB-IoT.

IoT presents opportunities for enterprises to improve efficiencies and enhance customer value. However, the IoT technology landscape remains fragmented. New massive IoT cellular technologies, such as NB-IoT and Cat-M1, are taking off and driving growth in the number of cellular IoT connections, with a CAGR of 30 percent expected between 2017 and 2023. These complementary technologies support diverse low-power wide-area (LPWA) use cases over the same underlying LTE network. See the table below for the connected device forecast, where the cellular IoT connections category is part of the wide-area IoT segment.

Commercial deployments of Cat-M1 and NB-IoT

Mobile operators have commercially launched more than 60 cellular IoT networks worldwide using Cat-M1 and NB-IoT.1

In North America, IoT applications such as logistics and fleet management are mainly supported by Cat-M1 technology. In China, NB-IoT technology has been selected for nationwide deployment to support use cases such as smart cities (for example, utility meters) and smart agriculture. Both technologies are being deployed in parallel as a complement to each other across regions worldwide.

Large-scale deployments, and the resulting high-volume chipsets, are expected to reduce chipset prices. This is leading to further acceleration of the growth in cellular IoT connections.

Table from Ericsson Mobility Report (June 2018): number of connected devices

Chart from the Ericsson Mobility Report June 2018 : number of cellular IoT connections

1 GSA (April 2018)
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