Juniper Research forecasts that the total number of connections leveraging unlicensed spectrum to deliver low power M2M connectivity will approach 400 million by 2022. Connections using these technologies, such as Sigfox, LoRa and Ingenu, will rise from an estimated 50 million by the end of 2018, representing total growth of 736%.
Battle for market share
The new research, Low Power M2M: Technology Impact Analysis, Vertical Assessment & Forecasts 2018-2022, found that connectivity providers offering low‑cost unlicensed alternatives to cellular technologies such as NB-IoT and LTE-M, will threaten operators’ return on investment (ROI). It found that overall service revenues from unlicensed low power connections will be 102% higher than those over their cellular counterparts by 2022.
Without the cost of spectrum acquisition or radio development, unlicensed connections can be implemented rapidly, and cost-effectively. As a result, the report urged mobile operators to set cellular low power M2M prices accordingly, highlighting their superior capabilities and network reach over unlicensed connections to justify their higher subscription price and module cost.
Research author Sam Barker noted “Unlicensed spectrum M2M service providers must focus on rapid expansion of their networks’ coverage in order to offer the same breadth of services that can be offered by network operators.”
Operator low power M2M opportunity
Meanwhile, the report found that cellular low power M2M connections will approach 100 million by 2022. Higher data rates and ubiquitous coverage of these cellular networks will accelerate smart city deployments, forecasting that low power cellular smart city connections will grow at an average annual growth rate of 313% over the next 4 years.
The research claimed that sensors must leverage low power cellular networks if they require a data connection for reliable OTA (over the air) updates and IP-based communication. It found that the long range capabilities of cellular low power networks, geographical coverage and high data rates will be a key differentiator from unlicensed spectrum networks.
Juniper believed that higher data rates and ubiquitous coverage of these cellular networks will accelerate smart city deployments; Juniper forecasts that low power cellular smart city connections will grow by 311% CAGR (compound annual growth rate) over the next 5 years.