IoT is an unparalleled opportunity for future growth and will be an essential new source of monetization for Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) looking to compensate for declining revenue in the once core services of voice and messaging.

Many large telecom companies have already invested in low power wide area (LPWA) IoT networks by allocating portions of spectrum from their existing cellular networks. By doing this they can provide affordable connectivity to billions of new IoT devices. As of Q1 2019, 149 operators in 69 countries have already invested in NB-IoT or LTE-M network technologies. Among the 110 operators who have already launched networks are AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile in North America.

Who Provides Connectivity?

IoT networks in licensed spectrum are secure, scalable, and reliable.

Analyst firm Machina Research anticipate there will be 3 billion LPWA connections by 2025. By 2022, already 56% of active LPWA connections will be in licensed spectrum.

Mobile IoT (M-IoT) refers to secure, operator managed IoT networks in licensed spectrum. Due to the diversity of IoT applications, the mobile industry chose two complementary LPWA technologies, NB-IoT and LTE-M, to address and support a wide range of applications and deployment scenarios. Mobile network operators (MNOs) who manage LPWA IoT networks in the licensed spectrum, i.e. Mobile IoT, are regulated by 3GPP guidelines for standardization, definition, and deployment. These networks are designed to provide, interoperability, end-to-end secure connectivity and authentication support for Mobile IoT applications.

MNOs use existing cellular infrastructure to provide low power wide area (LPWA) connectivity for M-IoT devices. Many operators have already deployed M-IoT commercial networks and have a robust infrastructure that can support large numbers of devices with minimal risk for disruption over a wide geographic area. These MNOs have already proven their capability by providing reliable service for billions of internet-based smartphone devices around the world.

IoT solutions using M-IoT connectivity can be deployed in a simplified manner at a lower cost and with more coverage and security than other IoT technologies. Alternative IoT solution providers such as LoRa, Sigfox, and Ingenu depend on short-range LPWA networks that operate in unlicensed spectrum and require the installation of gateways to provide connectivity. Building a network infrastructure that functions beyond a small, well-defined area can quickly become very costly, rendering this model of IoT connectivity impractical for operations at scale.

Innovation and Economic Growth

Global Mobile IoT networks vastly expand the scope of possibilities.

By 2022, Strategy
Analytics estimate network operators could be generating more than
$13 billion from LPWA connectivity, as well as significant additional revenues from value-added services, such
as data analytics and security.

There is a diverse range of industries, applications and deployment scenarios this technology has the ability to support. M-IoT applications can integrate with existing legacy networks and reduce time to market for new IoT solutions. The GSMA Mobile IoT Initiative was designed to accelerate the commercial availability of LPWA solutions in licensed spectrum because of its potential to radically transform business operations in the present and immediate future.

Mobile IoT is a chance for businesses to get ahead of the technology curve by implementing simple IoT solutions. When organizations upgrade operational technology, productivity increases and downtime inches closer to zero. M-IoT connectivity has the potential to fuel economic development by delivering asset tracking and remote monitoring data on a robust and secure wireless network. Ultimately, the resulting data can be processed and analyzed to provide insight into new and more innovative ways to deliver value for businesses, communities, and the environment.

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