Mobile Devices

IoT cellular connections to reach 3 billion by 2026

10 September 2021

Cellular internet of things (IoT) connections are expected to rise more than 3 billion by 2026 as the technology becomes more popular in homes and industry, according to new data from ABI Research.

Whereas cellular networks connect smartphones to carry voice through the air, allow text messages or internet surfing, cellular IoT connects physical devices or components, such as sensors, to the internet using the same cellular connections as smartphones.

Cellular IoT connects IoT devices in the home, piggybacking on the same mobile network and provides an alternative to low power, wide area networks (LPWAN) and non-cellular LoRaWAN and Sigfox technologies. Previously, cellular IoT devices used a ton of power, limiting its usefulness. However, with costs decreasing, the technology is becoming a popular option especially with new cellular standards such as NB-IoT, LTE-M and 5G MMTC emerging.

The brunt of the new connections will be from 4G LTE and LPWA networks and driving an $8 billion market for IoT security services. The security industry will be a significant part of this growth as new technology developments to provide secure cellular connectivity solutions to IoT stakeholders across the board emerge, ABI said. 5G is also expected to play a role as the technology becomes more ubiquitous in the industry.

“Specifically, new target markets will emerge that will require dedicated point solutions and customized service offerings for communication service providers and enterprises directly,” said Michela Menting, digital security research director at ABI Research. “An expanded threat landscape, new standard-defined security protocols, and the potential for revenue generation through the sale of value-added security services all combine to drive a dynamic and highly competitive security market for cellular IoT protection.”

Demand is coming from secure cellular IoT solutions such as automotive, asset management, smart cities, utilities and energy as well as from payments and healthcare applications.

Because of this high demand, cybersecurity vendors and traditional technology providers are joining the fray alongside telcos to offer secure IoT solutions to mobile network operators and enterprises.

“While LPWANs are still nascent, and 5G NR quite a few years from maturity, early understanding and integration of security is critical to developing trusted networks and will enable the creation of high-value revenue opportunities for the entire industry,” Menting said.

The full research can be found in ABI Research’s Secure IoT Cellular Connectivity report.

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