Berg Insight: 3G to miss out as cellular IoT market leapfrogs from 2G to 4G

GPRS is the leading technology in cellular Internet of Things (IoT) devices today due to the cost advantages that 2G offers, Berg Insight revealed.

The research company said GPRS is a cost-effective means of connecting cellular IoT devices and remains the technology of choice in emerging markets. However, the company predicted the situation will change rapidly, with LTE set to become the leading technology for cellular IoT devices in 2019.

"2G is still growing rapidly in emerging markets and has a clear cost advantage in Europe," Tobias Ryberg, senior analyst at Berg Insight explained.

LTE will grow to dominate the cellular IoT device market thanks to a dramatic improvement in the economics of the technology that comes with "LTE Cat-0 and the upcoming LTE-M standard," Ryberg said, adding. "Once these are in place there will be no more significant barriers left against migration from 2G."

The improving economics is perhaps bad news for 3G. Berg Insight predicted the technology would serve only as an interim in cellular IoT, with shipments of devices using 3G tipped to peak in 2018.

Low Power Wide Area (LPWA) networking technologies are expected to provide some competition to LTE, and the company said the 3GPP's recent move to define a new narrowband radio technology for IoT (NB-IoT) is highly significant because it offers the chance to bring a new set of applications into the mobile domain.

"A global universal standard for lightweight IoT communication on public networks is essential for driving the market forward," Ryberg explained.

Overall, Berg Insight predicted that the number of cellular IoT devices will grow at a CAGR of 20.1 per cent from 2015 to reach 239.7 million units in 2020.

Separate research by IDATE predicted the broader number of IoT objects will grow from 42 billion in 2015 to 155 billion in 2015, the equivalent to annual growth of 14 per cent.

The research company said objects currently account for 80 per cent of the overall IoT market, due to widespread adoption by a number of sectors and the very low cost of tags.

Connected information devices is the second-largest sector in IDATE's analysis, accounting for 13 per cent of the market. The company predicted this sector would enjoy growth of 13 per cent each year through 2025.

Perhaps surprisingly, M2M represents 6 per cent of the market for connected things today, with wearables and connected objects bringing up the rear with 1 per cent of the market. However, IDATE noted the latter sector would experience the highest growth over the next decade, with increases of up to 30 per cent per annum.

For more:
- view Berg Insight's release here
- read IDATE's predictions

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