Low power mobile IoT networks to cover 93% of the largest markets by Q3 2019

Alex Sinclair of GSMA

The GSMA reports that mobile IoT or Low Power Wide Area (LPWA) networks are now globally available in licensed spectrum in 49 markets around the world. This follows 93 launches by 50 different mobile operators across both LTE-M and NB-IoT.

Coverage is now expected to reach approximately 93% of the world’s largest IoT markets by Q2 2019. According to GSMA Intelligence forecasts, by 2025 there will be 3.5 billion cellular Internet of Things connections, including 1.9 billion licensed LPWA connections.

“The speed with which these networks have been standardised and deployed around the world is staggering,” says Alex Sinclair, chief technology officer, GSMA. “They are now available in every major IoT market encouraging the development of innovative new products and services across a wide range of sectors.

The market clearly sees the benefit of solutions in licensed spectrum that offer flexibility, adaptability, security and lower cost. They are also future-proofed for the 5G era and will support and co-exist with other 5G technologies.”

Mobile IoT global adoption

 To date there have been 68 Narrowband IoT (NB-IoT) launches in 45 markets and 25 launches of LTE-M networks in 19 markets. This is supported by a network of 47 Open Labs worldwide enabling organisations to test their products and services prior to launch: www.gsma.com/iot/deployment-map/.

Launches in Q4 2018 in Europe included Altice (Portugal; NB-IoT), Orange, (France and Romania; LTE-M), Telenor Group (Norway; NB-IoT, LTE-M), Telia (Estonia; NB-IoT), SFR (France; NB-IoT), Swisscom (Switzerland; NB-IoT, LTE-M) and Vodafone (Malta; NB-IoT). In Asia, Grameenphone (Bangladesh; NB-IoT), Chungwa (Taiwan; LTE-M), Telkomsel (Indonesia; NB-IoT) and Megafon and MTS (Russia; NB-IoT). Verizon and Spark also launched LTE-M in North America and New Zealand respectively, while STC launched NB-IoT in Saudi Arabia and Telefonica launhed LTE-M in Argentina.

The GSMA Mobile IoT Innovators community 

The GSMA Mobile IoT Innovators community (https://www.gsma.com/iot/mobile-iot-innovators) has also reached 2,100 developers from more than 1,300 companies around the world. The official community is an ecosystem that unites operators, vendors, manufacturers and developers around LPWA technologies in licensed spectrum and supports the development and creation of innovative new products and services that utilise these technologies.

Mobile IoT Initiative and APAC IoT Partnership programme

Backed by more than 100 mobile operators and vendors, the GSMA’s Mobile IoT Initiative4 has helped to align the mobile industry behind licensed, standardised and complementary Low Power, Wide Area (LPWA) technologies called LTE-M and NB-IoT. These Mobile IoT networks support mass-market IoT applications such as smart meters, environmental sensors and consumer electronics, that are low cost, use low data rates, require long battery lives and often operate in remote locations.

They are designed to support mass-market IoT applications across a wide variety of applications such as industrial asset tracking, safety monitoring, water and gas metering, smart grids, city parking, vending machines and city lighting.

The GSMA also recently launched the GSMA APAC IoT Partnership programme to help mobile operators and partners in the Asia-Pacific region to accelerate the adoption of IoT by facilitating the sharing of innovation and ideas, promoting regional leadership and providing access to open labs to test new use cases. The GSMA has also released a document highlighting some innovative LTE-M and NB-IoT use cases in Asia: https://www.gsma.com/iot/mobile-iot-asia-pacific-case-study/

IoT Security at MWC19

The GSMA Internet of Things will also host a seminar on IoT Security titled, ‘Future Proofing the Internet of Things – IoT Security Today and Tomorrow’ on February 26th at the Fira Gran Via. The in-depth session will see industry experts debate the importance of IoT security and examine how security must be embedded from the beginning and during every stage of the service lifecycle. The GSMA IoT Security Guidelines and Security Assessment have become the leading industry specification for securing IoT products and services, with 15 global operators adopting them in 2018.

The GSMA’s Internet of Things programme will also host a number of activities at this year’s MWC19 in Barcelona, including the 8th Mobile IoT Summit on February 24th at the Hesperia Barcelona Tower Hotel. The session will include IoT experts from AT&T, Huawei, Nokia, Singtel and Telefonica and explore how mobile operators and the widerecosystem have successfully deployed Mobile IoT solutions. Please go here to register: https://www.gsma.com/iot/event/8th-mobile-iot-summit/. There will also a number of interactive Mobile IoT demonstrations at the GSMA Innovation City in Hall 4.


  2. GSMA Intelligence: Top 50 countries have been identified based on number of licenced cellular IoT connections
  3. GSMA Intelligence
  4. The GSMA Mobile IoT Initiative: The GSMA’s Mobile IoT Initiative is helping to support the industry deliver commercial LPWA solutions in licensed spectrum. It is currently backed by over 90 global mobile operators, device makers and chipset, module and infrastructure companies worldwide. In the space of a year it has helped to establish market standards for LPWA, published by 3GPP, that will play a fundamental role in the growth, development and adoption of the technology as well as securely and cost effectively connect the billions of new devices making up the IoT. LPWA networks will be used for a wide variety of applications such as industrial asset tracking, safety monitoring, water and gas metering, smart grids, city parking, vending machines and city lighting. For further information: https://www.gsma.com/iot/mobile-iot-initiative/.

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