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GSMA: LPWA Networks Will Connect 1.4bn IoT Devices Within 5 Years

Steve McCaskill is editor of TechWeekEurope and ChannelBiz. He joined as a reporter in 2011 and covers all areas of IT, with a particular interest in telecommunications, mobile and networking, along with sports technology.

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GSMA is confident about the future of cellular in IoT after delays to finalising NB-IoT and LTE-M

Mobile industry body the GSMA is confident about the opportunities for mobile operators in the Internet of Things (IoT), declaring that Low Power Wide Area (LPWA) networks will lead such connections by 2022.

It has commissioned research that predicts that within five years, 1.4 billion devices will be connected to LPWA standards, such as Narrowband IoT (NB-IoT) and LTE-M, which are seen as essential if cellular is to have a role in connecting the IoT.

While 2G, 3G and 4G networks have the advantage of long range when compared to Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and Sigfox, they consume significantly more power. This makes them impractical for devices with low data and power needs in remote areas because of the cost in changing batteries.

Huawei Vodafone NB-IoT Lab (1)

GSMA IoT

LPWA networks alleviate these concerns and are being earmarked for applications such as asset tracking, smart meters, smart parking systems and city lighting. Operators can upgrade and use existing mobile infrastructure

The GSMA claims 67 operators and equipment manufacturers support its LPWA initiatives.

“In the space of nine short months, the GSMA’s Mobile IoT Initiative has established market standards for LPWA that will play a fundamental role in the growth, development and adoption of the technology,” said Alex Sinclair, GSMA CTO.

“There are already several mobile operators around the world running Mobile IoT pilots, and this year, we’ll see commercial launches across a range of sectors, providing complete IoT connectivity and delivering service to billions of new devices.”

Vodafone, which had expressed its frustration at the delays in finalising the NB-IoT specifications, has just launched its first network powered by the standard in Spain with the potential to connect 100 million devices. Nb-IoT networks could also soon arrive in Germany, Ireland and the Netherlands and across Vodafone’s entire footprint by 2020.

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