Low Power Wide Area IoT Connections Set For Steep Growth
Low Power Wide Area (LPWA) IoT connections are set to grow from 20 million in 2014 to 861 million by 2020, the equivalent to 55 per cent of all IoT connections, according to Pyramid Research.
In a new report, Pyramid has forecast that huge volume growth is expected from 2018, particularly when standard 3GPP LTE-M and NB-IoT modules become widely available.
“North America and Western Europe will initially be the largest LPWA regions,” Guillermo Hurtado, Pyramid senior analyst, commented.
“Proprietary LPWA IoT networks, such as LoRa and Sigfox, are being rolled out in these regions, and we expect major mobile network operators (MNOs) to begin deploying 3GPP LPWA in 2017, with aggressive coverage plans.
“Pyramid Research expects Asia Pacific to become the largest region in terms of LPWA connections from 2018. Deployments of proprietary LPWA networks in Asia Pacific have been limited, but growth will pick up as 3GPP LPWA modules hit the market.”
Pyramid states that a majority of MNOs will await 3GPP LPWA standards, noting that the “method is beneficial because many want a single global standard to integrate so they can sell their product to a wide audience”.
“It makes sense that most operators will follow the strategy of accelerating commercialisation of 3GPP LPWA technology, particularly if they have no urgent need to provide LPWA networks where no competitive network exists,” Hurtado observed.
Hurtado, however, additionally noted that over the forecast period “a range of other strategies will be implemented by a number of MNOs”.
“A high-risk, albeit high-reward, strategy would be to address immediate demand with proprietary technology,” he commented. “This approach is being undertaken by a number of predominantly European telecom incumbents, such as Swisscom, with no or limited international exposure.
“Other strategies include supporting a range of different technologies and offering LPWA network services without deploying a network by becoming resellers. The former is particularly appropriate for international operators present in diverse markets, whereas the latter would be beneficial to companies with a good local service network operator and favourable terms.”