According to a new research report from IoT analyst firm Berg Insight, global shipments of NB-IoT devices will grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 41.8% from 106.9 million units in 2018 to reach 613.2 million units in 2023.
Strong growth is fuelled by fast-growing demand in China where NB-IoT is set to replace 2G in mass-market applications. “China is driving a major paradigm shift in the global cellular IoT industry,” says Tobias Ryberg, senior analyst and author of the report, Cellular and LPWA IoT Device Ecosystems.
“The country has embarked on one of the world’s largest digital infrastructure projects that will result in billions of new connected devices in the coming five years. NB-IoT has been designated as the country’s preferred LPWA technology and plays a key role in the national policies.”
The transition from 2G to 4G is a global trend, accelerated by NB-IoT. In Europe, the leading mobile operators are making good progress towards ubiquitous coverage for NB-IoT. Vodafone has been among the leaders in the development of the standard and will roll out commercial services across all its networks until 2020. At the end of 2017, the operator had live NB-IoT services in Italy, Spain, Ireland and the Netherlands.
During 2018, availability will be extended to Germany, the UK and Czechia. Deutsche Telekom launched in Germany and the Netherlands in Q2-2017 and plans to extend coverage to an additional six European countries. Other European operators with live NB-IoT services in early 2018 included Orange, TIM and Telia Company. Telefónica will start deployments in Europe later this year. Adoption in North America is also starting to take off.
T-Mobile USA switched on NB-IoT services in Las Vegas in February this year and Verizon has confirmed plans to build a nationwide network covering 2.56 million square miles by the year-end. Australia, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey and the UAE are other examples of countries where rollouts are already underway.
LTE-M is another technology that will play a key role in the market transformation. Berg Insight predicts that adoption will accelerate during 2018/2019 and scale to massive volumes beyond 2020. Berg Insight forecasts that yearly shipments of LTE-M devices will reach 185.3 million units in 2023.