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China tops M2M market, says GSMA at Mobile World Congress in Shanghai

Steve Rogerson
July 15, 2015
At this week’s Mobile World Congress in Shanghai, the GSMA issued a report highlighting China’s leadership in the worldwide M2M market. According to the report,China is the world’s largest M2M market with 74 million M2M connections and has become the global leader in the deployment of the IoT.
The report includes insights from the country’s major mobile operators China Mobile, China Telecom and China Unicom, as well as industry experts, and cites the combination of a strong economy, far-sighted government investment and international cross-sector partnerships as key factors in enabling the IoT to reach scale quickly.
“Clearly, China’s size offers economies of scale unavailable to other countries, but it’s been the government’s focused strategy, emphasis on common specifications and cross-sector collaboration that has allowed the internet of things to scale, delivering positive benefits to businesses and consumer alike,” said Alex Sinclair, chief technology officer at the GSMA. “Connectivity is boosting major industries such as logistics, manufacturing and energy in terms of increased efficiency, but it has also created a new consumer market in areas such as connected vehicles, home appliances and wearables, putting China at the forefront of IoT deployment.”
Backed by government support, sectors such as transportation, energy, logistics, utilities and manufacturing have all benefited from the real-time information provided by mobile connectivity to increase efficiency, lower costs and manage infrastructure. However, the consumer market has also experienced incredible growth, with millions of Chinese consumers now owning multiple connected devices and experiencing the IoT in their daily lives.
The wearables market in particular is a hotbed of innovation, with thousands of products available at accessible prices, including smart watches, tracking devices and fitness bands with built-in connectivity. The connected car market is also growing apace, driven by the increasing availability of 4G network coverage, which is providing a range of in-car services such as entertainment, navigation, safety and vehicle diagnostics.
Machina Research forecasts that the number of connected devices, such as vehicle platforms, providing services within the connected car sector will increase from 16m in 2015 to 67.8bn in 2020 and to 130bn by 2024, making China the world’s largest connected car market after Russia.
China has benefited from proactive government support in the development of the IoT with funding allocated as part of the country’s 12th five-year development plan and additional funding made available for research and development. China has also led in the development of standards, establishing an IoT standards association and promoting Chinese-developed standards internationally. Adoption of industry specifications and guidelines, such as the GSMA embedded sim specification and the IoT device connection efficiency guidelines, will enable further growth and scale.
The central government has also selected 202 cities, including Beijing, Guangzhou, Hangzhou and Shanghai, to pilot smart city projects to collect, store and analyse information related to transportation, electricity, public safety and environmental factors.
The report highlights that China’s leading mobile operators – China Mobile, China Telecom and China Unicom – are at the vanguard in the development of the IoT and are moving from a business-to-business focus to offering more sophisticated consumer-oriented propositions via partnerships with other companies such as automotive makers and wearables companies. They are also forging domestic and international partnerships with vendors and manufacturers to bring the benefits of connectivity to a wide range of machines, vehicles and devices.
Beyond the supply of ubiquitous, high-performance connectivity, operators are working to standardise platforms, simplify business processes and provide value-added services such as security, authentication and billing.
The GSMA Innovation City at Mobile World Congress in Shanghai is giving visitors the opportunity to explore a real-life city environment packed with intelligent mobile-connected products and services that demonstrate how mobile technology is impacting the personal and professional lives of citizens around the globe. The showcase includes interactive demonstrations from Huawei, KT, Peel, Pittasoft, Oral-B, Qualcomm, Thin Film and Visa, as well as from the GSMA’s key industry programmes.
A cellular IoT pilot was deployed in Shanghai ahead of MWC by a collaboration of Huawei, China Unicom Shanghai and China Unicom Research Institute. This was based on 4.5G LTE M2M (LTE-M).
China Unicom Shanghai piloted smart parking, which marks the beginning of actual commercial applications of LTE-M-based cellular IoT technologies. LTE-M will help China Unicom accelerate industry layouts and embrace the IoT era in response to the national Internet Plus strategy.
LTE-M is one of the key features of 4.5G and the latest cellular IoT technology along the LTE evolutionary path. Compared with LTE, LTE-M can increase in-depth coverage gain to up to 100 folds and number of connections to over 1000 fold while the power consumption of the device is only ten per cent.
It requires 200kHz spectral resources and reuses existing network resources, which enable carriers to carry out rapid and efficient construction of LTE-M networks. These breakthroughs lay the foundation for intelligent IoT popularisation.
The smart parking system in Shanghai is a typical application of LTE-M. Parking stall detectors periodically collect data and report the status to the server through LTE-M. Drivers can search for available parking spots around the city at any time using a mobile app.
"Huawei supports carriers' efforts in overcoming technical challenges encountered when entering vertical industries and helps them seize the vast potential opportunities," said William Wang, president of Huawei Wireless’ FDD product line. "LTE-M will be commercialised globally in 2016. We have already collaborated extensively with carriers in China, Europe, the Middle East and the Asia Pacific region.”