GSA says 166 operators globally are investing in NB-IoT

25 Feb 2022

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A GSA report indicates LTE-M and particularly NB-IoT networks are gaining traction, being deployed by 140 operators in 64 countries.

The global mobile industry has shown a growing interest in low-power wide-area network (LPWAN) technology, with more operators supporting narrowband internet of things (NB-IoT) networks

A new report by the Global Mobile Suppliers Association (GSA) said that 140 operators have deployed or launched NB-IoT or the competing LTE-M network in 64 countries.

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NB-IoT is designed to wirelessly connect millions of devices that have low bandwidth requirements. It is a type of LPWAN technology that has been growing in popularity in recent years for the ability to send continuous streams of data for various purposes.

GSA president Joe Barrett said the market growth in NB-IoT networks has been “highly encouraging” over the past year. There are 166 operators now investing in this technology, with 124 having already deployed or commercially launched a network, “illustrating the traction that these networks are gaining”.

“This momentum is also translated in the number of available devices, which are now close to 750, and we are looking forward to seeing how these networks and devices will be used for a range of innovative and interesting use cases,” Barrett added.

The GSA report said many global industries such as agriculture, robotics, smart industry, smart cities and smart energy are exploring the potential of the internet of things.

“Companies are actively working on IoT use cases involving both NB-IoT and LTE-M, and the market has seen a boost from the greater need for remote operations during the pandemic,” GSA said. “We expect the IoT market to grow rapidly over the next five years and for 3GPP technologies to gain market share as part of that.”

GSA also found that 74 operators are actively investing in LTE-M technology, while 55 of these have deployed or commercially launched a LTE-M network. This is a decline of one operator actively investing since the last update in April 2021.

NB-IoT and LTE-M have been seen as the two leading options in the cellular side of LPWAN technology. Both have been attempting to be crowned the standard to rule them all among major companies and governments.

In 2018, Ericsson’s Yasir Hussain said he could see the two technologies overlapping, with operators having the capacity to enable both in their infrastructure.

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Leigh Mc Gowran is a journalist with Silicon Republic

editorial@siliconrepublic.com