Bad news, mobile operators: Unlicensed IoT tech rocketing ahead of NB-IoT and LTE-M – report

Plus global mobe mobs name Sigfox top IoT tech lag

Internet of Things connectivity tech firm Sigfox is the market daddy, having left competing mobile operator-backed techs for dust – so sayeth ABI Research.

In a briefing distributed to world+dog this morning, the consultancy said: "In 2017, SIGFOX had the largest share of public LPWA [Low Powered Wide Area] connections worldwide benefiting from its first mover advantage in Europe."

The research outfit also noted that "private LPWA networks", those built by IoT customers without the involvement of mobile networks, "accounted for 93 per cent of connections in 2017".

This is not good news for mobile network operators, which are mostly pinning their IoT connectivity hopes on the NB-IoT and LTE-M connectivity specs. Both of these operate in licensed spectrum, whereas private networks using standards such as Sigfox and its LoRaWAN competitor use unlicensed spectrum, relying on the low probability of interference to maintain quality of service.

LoRa itself saw 54 per cent year-on-year growth, according to ABI's findings. Though the consultancy did not break out absolute numbers, it attributed this increase in popularity to China, where it reckoned 40 Chinese cities had deployed LoRa for uses such as smart meters, parking sensors, air quality sensors and the like. Those desperate to know more will have to register to buy the full report.

The consultancy also said smart meters would experience a 53 per cent compound annual growth rate between now and 2023. Such a prediction about the growth of IoT tech, while in line with others, may or may not come to pass as mobile network operators continue to promise big and deliver little with NB-IoT and LTE-M, even with the promise of 5G's native support for IoT connectivity. ®

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