Showing posts with label Transforma Insights. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Transforma Insights. Show all posts

Monday, 4 October 2021

Are there 50 Billion IoT Devices yet?

Detailed post below but if you are after a quick summary, it's in the picture above.

Couple of weeks back someone quoted that there were 50 billion devices last year (2020). After challenging them on the number, they came back to me to say that there were over 13 billion based on GSMA report. While the headline numbers are correct, there are some finer details we need to look at.

It all started back in 2010 when the then CEO of Ericsson announced that there will be 50 Billion IoT Devices by 2020. You could read all about it here and see the presentation here. While it doesn't explicitly say, it was expected that the majority of these will be based on cellular technologies. I also heard the number 500 Billion by 2030, back in 2013.

So the question is how many IoT devices are there today and how many of these are based on mobile cellular technologies?

The headline number provided by the GSMA Mobile Economy report, published just in time for MWC 2021, is 13.1 billion in 2020. It does not provide any further details on what kind of connectivity these devices use. I had to use my special search skills to find the details here.

As you can see, only 1.9 billion of these are based on cellular connections, of which 0.2 billion are based on licensed Low Power Wide Area (licensed LPWA, a.k.a. LTE-M and NB-IoT) connections. 

Ericsson Mobility Report, June 2021, has a much more detailed breakdown regarding the numbers as can be seen in the slide above. As of the end of 2020, there were 12.4 billion IoT devices, of which 10.7 billion were based on Short-range IoT. Short-range IoT is defined as a segment that largely consists of devices connected by unlicensed radio technologies, with a typical range of up to 100 meters, such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and Zigbee.

Wide-area IoT, which consists of segment made up of devices using cellular connections or unlicensed low-power technologies like Sigfox and LoRa had 1.7 billion devices. So, the 1.6 billion cellular IoT devices also includes LPWAN technologies like LTE-M and NB-IoT.

I also reached out to IoT experts at analyst firm Analysys Mason. As you can see in the Tweet above, Tom Rebbeck, Partner at Analysys Mason, mentioned 1.6 billion cellular (excluding NB-IoT + LTE-M) and 220 million LPWA (which includes NB-IoT, LTE-M, as well as LoRa, Sigfox etc.) IoT connections.

I also noticed this interesting chart in the tweet above which shows the growth of IoT from Dec 2010 until June 2021. Matt Hatton, Founding Partner of Transforma Insights, kindly clarified that the number as 1.55 billion including NB-IoT and LTE-M.

As you can see, the number of cellular IoT connections are nowhere near 50 billion. Even if we include all kinds of IoT connectivity, according to the most optimistic estimate by Ericsson, there will be just over 26 billion connections by 2026.

Just before concluding, it is worth highlighting that according to all these cellular IoT estimates, over 1 billion of these connections are in China. GSMA's 'The Mobile Economy China 2021' puts the number as 1.34 billion as of 2020, growing to 2.29 billion by 2025. Details on page 9 here.

Hopefully, when someone wants to talk about Internet of Thing numbers in the future, they will do a bit more research or just quote the numbers from this post here.

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