Worldwide LPWA network connections to hit one billion by 2023

Worldwide LPWA network connections to hit one billion by 2023

NB-IoT and LTE-M could overtake non-cellular LPWA for IoT in the next five years.

Licensed low-power, wide-area (LPWA) network connections will outnumber their unlicensed counterparts as the LPWA market increases by 53 percent a year over the next five years, according to new forecasts by ABI Research.

The analyst firm said that by 2023 worldwide LPWA network connections will reach one billion, primarily driven by the growth in smart meters and asset trackers. In 2017, these devices contributed to almost three-quarters of all LPWA network connections, and will continue to drive growth in the sector, it added.

But non-cellular LPWA will cede its market share dominance to NB-IoT and LTE-M, as cellular LPWA moves to capture over 55 percent of LPWA connections by 2023, according to ABI’s predictions.

Researchers added that while Western Europe and North America witnessed early deployments of public LPWA networks, the Asia-pacific, especially China, has been a pivotal market for driving large-scale adoption of NB-IoT and LoRa.

“Asset tracking applications traditionally relied on complex, expensive solutions to track high-value assets,” said Adarsh Krishnan, principal analyst at ABI Research.

“LPWA network technologies are making it feasible to build simple, small, and low-cost footprint devices that can track and monitor everything from sea-freight containers to bicycles, patients to pets, supermarket trolleys to pallets, paving the way for new innovative solutions and business opportunities.”

Smart meters contribute to LPWA growth

The research also said that smart meters deployed by energy and water utilities will be the second largest vertical IoT application in 2023, and this will contribute over one-third of global LPWA device connections.

According to ABI Research, Sigfox had the largest share of public LPWA connections worldwide, benefiting from its first-mover advantage in Europe.

“Sigfox has continued to stay a step ahead in public LPWA networks, with the rollout of the Monarch cognitive network service in early 2018,” said Krishnan. “The Monarch service enables Sigfox devices to automatically adapt to radio frequency changes, allowing for seamless roaming across Sigfox networks.”

Internet of Business says

The research also found that private LPWA networks accounted for 93 percent of LPWA connections in 2017. The analysts said that LoRa and other noncellular LPWA technologies have benefited from the decreasing cost of ICs, low implementation costs, and flexibility of private networks that can be tailored to meet specific enterprise IoT applications.

More details can be found in ABI Research’s Low-Power Wide Area Network Market Data report.

Rene Millman is a freelance writer and broadcaster who covers IoT, mobile technology, cloud, and infrastructure. In the past, he has also worked as an analyst for both Gartner and IDC. He has made numerous television appearances discussing the technology trends and companies that shape our lives.