Telecoms industry group GSMA has published a report on China’s emerging dominance of the global Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) market.
The report, The Industrial IoT in Greater China, argues that the region is poised to take a global lead in IIoT development as a result of various factors. These include strong government support and advances in complementary technologies, such as machine learning.
According to the report, China is doubling down on the IIoT. As a fast-growing economy – already the world’s second largest – those deploying the technology within the country can take advantage of huge economies of scale, pushing China to become the global leader in IIoT solutions.
The nation’s mobile operators – which include Asia Pacific Telecom Group, China Mobile, China Telecom, China Unicom, Far EasTone, and Taiwan Mobile – are expected to provide the foundations for that, through the provision of reliable and secure connectivity services.
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GSMA’s IIoT predictions
In the report, GSMA predicts that China will claim one-third of the global IIoT market. By 2025, it expects there to be 13.8 billion IIoT connections worldwide, and 4.1 billion of those will be in China.
The IIoT has the potential to improve productivity across the industrial sector by combining connectivity with cloud computing, analytics, artificial intelligence, and automation. Ultimately, the Chinese government sees an opportunity to take the country’s factories and businesses to the next level through better process management.
“These new technologies will fundamentally alter the way we live and work, intelligently connecting virtually every device, making our cities smarter and our lives easier and more productive,” said Alex Sinclair, CTO of GSMA.
“China is betting big on the IIoT to increase productivity and drive efficiencies by streamlining and automating manufacturing processes via internet connectivity. Backed by positive government support, China is set to become the world’s leader.”
Reliable networks, government support
Since then-premier Wen Jiabao announced in 2010 that pioneering development of the IoT would be critical to China’s long-term ICT plans, the country has had no shortage of top-down support for emerging technologies.
In 2015, the Chinese government launched the ‘Made in China 2025’ strategy, a project with the aim of increasing the country’s manufacturing innovation. The manufacturing sector received significant state funding – thought to be in excess of $1.5 billion – with a view to turning China into “a manufacturing super house”.
In the same year, the Chinese government unveiled its ‘Internet Plus Action Plan’, the aim of which was to better integrate internet connectivity with traditional industries to drive economic growth.
Alongside substantial government support, the IIoT industry is set to benefit from the fact that many of the country’s telecoms providers are winning the race to offer low-power, wide-area (LPWA) networks, such as LTE-M and NB-IoT, along with 5G trials.
China has also been ploughing billions of dollars into robotics and AI, two sectors it intends to dominate in the next decade, as the country automates faster than any of its competitors.
As the report concludes, “By employing large numbers of connected sensors, the Industrial IoT promises to transform the efficiency and effectiveness of industries and city services across East Asia, driving a fourth industrial revolution in which data analytics and artificial intelligence will play a central role.
“Mobile operators across Greater China are delivering the connectivity, and other capabilities, required to bring about this revolution.”
Internet of Business says
It’s hard to avoid the impression that the current US-China trade war has little to do with IP protection, and a great deal to do with attempting to destabilise China while it is in the ascendancy. However, one of the problems with the new US policy towards Asia is that the current administration appears to be alienating its longstanding allies too, undermining international pacts and alliances.
In the long run, this may do more to strengthen China’s position than it does to weaken it: a high-risk strategy when so many Western companies rely on China and its allies to manufacture goods cheaply.
Of course, that may be the point, but it misses the knock-on effect of soaring costs and shrinking markets and alliances for US technology providers.