NB-IoT and LTE-M Issues to Boost LoRa and Sigfox Near and Long-term Lead in LPWA Network Connections


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LoRa and Sigfox will hold the leading share of LPWA networks connections at least through 2024 over cellular technologies NB-IoT and LTE-M. By 2026, NB-IoT and LTE-M will capture over 60% of the 3.6 billion LPWA network connections. Of the remaining 40% share, LoRa and Sigfox will account for over 80% of the non-cellular LPWA network connections, according to global tech market advisory firm, ABI Research.

In 2018, NB-IoT and LTE-M continued to be plagued by network hardware and connectivity module issues. As telcos and technology vendors address these inherent problems in 2019, other questions are driving enterprises and OEMs to delay deployment of NB-IoT and LTE-M applications, including eSIM/iSIM and the merging of NB-IoT and LTE-M into 5G standards. “This short-term uncertainty has delayed the commercial rollout of cellular LPWA IoT solutions by 12 to 18 months. But, it has also benefited Sigfox and LoRa, as both have witnessed a substantial increase in adoption from device OEMs and IoT solution vendors,” explains Adarsh Krishnan, Principal Analyst at ABI Research.

LoRa technology adoption in 2018 was dominated by growth in IoT connections from private networks, with 75% Year-on-Year growth. LoRa has benefited from a multi-vendor ecosystem of gateway OEMs such as Multi-tech, Kerlink, Cisco, and Tektelic offering a wide array of gateway solutions which reduced network TCO (total cost of ownership) for enterprises. LoRa technology offers enterprise customers the choice of building their own network (private) or using an operator managed public network, or both, based on the IoT use-case. This flexibility in network deployment has been a decisive factor in its early adoption by utilities and manufacturing companies that have traditionally been advocates of private networks. However, even as LoRa’s private network footprint continues to expand, connection growth in public networks will outpace private networks connecting the majority ofLoRa devices by 2026. As well, ABI Research expects LoRa devices to have the majority share of non-cellular LPWA connections by 2026.

In 2018, Sigfox had the second largest share of public LPWA network connections after NB-IoT. The main drivers of Sigfox connections were growth in home security, smart metering, and asset tracking applications. With an extensive network footprint in Europe, Sigfox had a leading share of LPWA connections in the region and will continue to have a leading share of European non-cellular LPWA connections. Sigfox, with its Monarch service, is currently the only commercially available LPWA network solution that supports the multi-regional tracking of assets. Asset tracking solutions from Sigfox witnessed several successful implementations from companies such as Groupe PSA, Total SA, Guerlain, BPW Group, Luis Vuitton, and Michelin to track assets from containers, trailers, reusable pallets, boxes, and bags. By 2026, Sigfox connections will exceed 430 million end-points with significant growth coming from asset tracking applications.

Regionally, LPWA network technologies gained most from IoT activity in the APAC region, which accounted for 40% of the global LPWA connections in 2018. China has been a critical market for the early adoption and growth of LoRa and NB-IoT. In 2018, global cellular LPWA network connections were primarily driven by the growth in the APAC region to account for nearly 97% of all NB-IoT connections, although still significantly short of market expectation. Throughout the forecast period, the APAC region will continue to be a pivotal growth market for LPWA network technologies, followed by Europe and North America.

These findings are from ABI Research’s Low-Power Wide Area Network Market Data report. This report is part of the company’s M2M, IoT & IoE research service, which includes research, data, and analyst insights. Market Data spreadsheets are composed of deep data, market share analysis, and highly segmented, service-specific forecasts to provide detailed insight where opportunities lie.

About ABI Research

ABI Research provides strategic guidance to visionaries, delivering actionable intelligence on the transformative technologies that are dramatically reshaping industries, economies, and workforces across the world. ABI Research’s global team of analysts publish groundbreaking studies often years ahead of other technology advisory firms, empowering our clients to stay ahead of their markets and their competitors.

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