Low-power IoT networks now available from 100 operators, says GSA

29 March 2019 | Alan Burkitt-Gray

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More than 100 operators in 52 countries have already launched one of the main two low-power networks for internet of things (IoT), according to a new report.

The Global Mobile Suppliers Association (GSA) says that 20 of them, in 19 countries, have launched both technologies – Narrowband IoT (NB-IoT) and LTE-M, which is the machine-to-machine (M2) version of 4G.

Together they are classified as low power wide area networks (LPWANs), and both are part of official mobile technology standards.

GSA president Joe Barrett said: “The global momentum behind LPWAN deployments is testament to the revenue opportunities which operators are racing to win and monetise in a diverse range of new IoT applications.”

The GSA – with members mainly from the equipment industry – is an industry organisation that tracks the availability of mobile devices, networks and services. 

He added: “Significantly, it can also be seen as a precursor to operators replacing legacy M2M services such as GPRS-based trackers and preparing the ground for the eventual switch-off of their 2G networks.”

When operators are able to close down 2G services, that allows them to re-farm spectrum for more efficient 3G or 4G services – and 5G in the future.

According to the GSA:

  • 149 operators in 69 countries (see map) are investing in one or both of the NB-IoT and LTE-M network technologies;
  • 22 countries are now home to deployed/launched NB-IoT and LTE-M networks;
  • 28 countries are home to deployed/launched NB-IoT networks only;
  • two countries are home to deployed/launched LTE-M networks only;
  • 140 operators in 69 countries are investing in NB-IoT networks, of which 88 operators in 50 countries had deployed/launched their networks;
  • 60 operators in 35 countries are investing in LTE-M networks, of which 34 operators in 24 countries had deployed/launched their networks.

The report is available here (registration required).