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GSMA forecasts billion Chinese M2M connections in report at MWC Shanghai

Steve Rogerson
June 30, 2016
China’s M2M market will reach one billion connections by 2020, with the majority coming from the developing low-power, wide area (LPWA) market, according to a report released this week by GSMA Intelligence and the China Academy of Information & Communications Technology (CAICT) at Mobile World Congress in Shanghai.
The report highlights that China is the world’s largest M2M market with approximately 100 million cellular M2M connections, a figure that is expected to increase to 350 million by 2020. However, an additional 730 million connections will be enabled by LPWA technology, taking the total figure to just over one billion.
By 2025, it is expected that 50 per cent of the world’s 28 billion connected devices will be suitable for connection by LPWA networks.
“With government support, China has quickly become the world’s largest M2M market, and LPWA will play a fundamental part of its future growth, presenting new opportunities for key industry sectors and for operators to provide connectivity across the country,” said Alex Sinclair, chief technology officer for the GSMA. “The GSMA’s Mobile IoT Initiative is working with China’s mobile network operators to deliver commercial LPWA in licensed spectrum to accelerate adoption and transform the development of the internet of things in areas such as agriculture, automotive and utilities.”
LPWA networks are designed for M2M applications that have low data rates, require long battery lives and operate unattended for long periods of time, often in remote locations. The Mobile IoT Initiative has coalesced the industry behind global technology standards in licensed spectrum for the LPWA market, which have now been published by 3GPP.
Three complementary technologies – narrow band IoT (NB-IoT), EC-GSM-IoT and LTE machine type communications (LTE-MTC) – can cover all LPWA use cases, ensuring customer choice and helping the IoT market to flourish.
Licensed LPWA networks complement and extend conventional wide area networks, which make use of 2G and 4G cellular technologies, as well as local area networks such as wifi, Bluetooth and Zigbee. These licensed standards allow operators to optimise their existing mobile network infrastructure through an upgrade to EC-GSM-IoT for 2G networks and LTE-MTC for LTE networks, while NB-IoT can use both 2G and 4G spectrum.
The GSMA is partnering the CTIA to hold a Mobile World Conference in the Americas from 2017. The inaugural event will be held in San Francisco in September 2017 and will incorporate the existing CTIA Super Mobility event, the next one of which is due to be held in September this year in Las Vegas.
“We are very excited to be partnering with CTIA to create our first large-scale event in the USA,” said John Hoffman, CEO of GSMA. “The North American mobile industry has been the strongest performing of any developed region globally, leading innovation in hardware, access technologies, operating systems and new apps and services that are scaling rapidly and changing how individuals live and work. Mobile World Congress Americas will put a spotlight on this innovation and will support the continued growth of the mobile ecosystem in the region.”
This year’s CTIA Super Mobility will include the M2M Zone pavilion on the exhibit floor to bring together vertical industries and operators, manufacturers, developers and systems integrators in the embedded systems community. M2M Zone will also host the M2M IoT Leadership Forum.