IoT Subscription Growth Forecasts Demonstrate Slow but Steady Progress

K. Weldon
K. Weldon

Summary Bullets:

  • GlobalData’s Q2 mobile trends report provides growth rates and insights into subscriptions for mobile networks across service types and regions; it also offers clues to the progress of IoT uptake in various regions.
  • Examples of operator traction and new initiatives are quite diverse, while regional growth rates are moderate, in the range of 12% to 16% CAGR. For all regions, IoT has steadily (if slowly) been gaining ground and the outlook is positive.

GlobalData’s Q2 mobile trends report provides insights into subscriptions for mobile networks.  Among many other key findings, it offers a clue to the progress of IoT uptake in various regions.  The following regional snapshots describe growth rates and recent operator initiatives.

North America: Cellular IoT subscriptions will reach 151.5 million at year-end 2021 and make up 26.5% of total mobile subscriptions in the region.  GlobalData expects the number of North American IoT connections to increase at a CAGR of 15.6% from 2021 to 2026, reaching 312.3 million at the end of the period.  Some recent examples of operator traction in North America show IoT progress in 2021.

  • In Q2 2021, AT&T disclosed that connected device net additions were 4.2 million. Total IoT connections at the end of Q2 reached 87.5 million.
  • AT&T is bringing cellular connectivity to Maserativehicles in the United States and Canada, through a new multi-year agreement enabling the next-generation Maserati Connect services for the luxury brand.
  • Verizon announced that its Hyper Precise Location service is available in more than 100 U.S. markets, enhancing location-based accuracy from meters to centimeters.
  • Verizon signed its first European private 5G deal with Associated British Ports, which will enable more diverse and complex IoT use cases.

Europe: IoT subscriptions in Europe will be one of the major subscription growth drivers in the period from 2021 to 2026.  Telecom operators have been creating new revenue streams in areas such as fleet management, smart cities, logistics, agriculture, and automotive.  European governments’ focus on ecologically friendly growth will further boost the role of IoT in energy efficiency, smart resource management, reducing CO2 emissions, and smart mobility.  Examples of recent IoT initiatives in Europe include:

  • Vodafone has tested new satellite-based precision positioning technology with its IoT platform to locate vehicles, drones, and cargo. It is also partnering with TerraDrone to develop computer vision technology that will enable a drone to fly independently.
  • Telefónica, in partnership with Nokia, Ineco, Stellantis, CTAG, and SICE, provided sensors and 5G coverage to the Cereixal tunnel in Spain, to send information to drivers regarding weather conditions, roadwork, warnings of slow and emergency vehicles, congestion, accidents, obstacles, presence of pedestrians, oncoming vehicles, and sudden braking.
  • Orange Business Services partnered with Agdatahub and SUEZ to form an agri-environmental-focused collaboration to enable the digital transformation of agricultural industries.

Africa/Middle East: M2M/IoT subscriptions will grow at a CAGR of 16.1% from 2021 to 2026.  Growth will be mainly driven by investments in smart city applications and business digital transformation.

  • Vodafone Qatar signed a deal with the country’s water and electricity company, KAHRAMAA, to install 600,000 smart meters.
  • Etisalat has implemented an IoT smart building solution for UAE’s largest bank.

Latin America: IoT subscriptions in Latin America will reach an estimated 57.1 million at year-end 2021, equating to 7.6% of total mobile subscriptions in the region, and will expand at a CAGR of 15.6% through 2026.  Growth will be driven by operator focus on developing IoT solutions on the back of high-speed 4G/5G networks.

  • TIM Brazil and Telecom Argentina are partnered with Nokia to explore opportunities in fleet management, agriculture, smart cities, logistics, and automotive.
  • ALD Automotive, a leading player in the vehicle leasing segment with a presence in 43 countries, has chosen Telefónica Tech and Geotab as preferred partners to develop its connected car solution in Europe and Latin America.

Asia-Pacific: IoT subscriptions in Asia-Pacific will reach 427 million in 2021, growing to 768 million by 2026 for a CAGR of 12.5% during the period.

  • China Telecom touted more than 100 million NB-IoT connections in June 2021.
  • Telstra has won a contract with Yarra Valley Water, which is Telstra’s largest IoT deal to date and the first large-scale IoT deployment using Telstra’s new cloud-based platform-as-a-service IoT Connection Manager (ICM), which will help Yarra Valley Water gain access to near real-time data from in-field sensors.

The examples above are quite diverse, while the regional growth rates are all in the range of 12% to 16% CAGR.  For all regions, IoT has steadily (if slowly) been gaining ground, and the outlook is positive, especially as enablers such as 5G, private networks, and edge computing mature.

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