NB-IoT and LTE-M Issues Boost LoRa and Sigfox in LPWA Network Connections

In BICSI Bytes, Newsby info@bicsi.com.au

According to ABI Research, LoRa and Sigfox will hold the leading share of LPWA networks connections at least through 2024, over cellular technologies NB-IoT and LTE-M. ABI also predicts that by 2026, NB-IoT and LTE-M will capture over 60% of the 3.6 billion LPWA network connections; and of the remaining 40%, LoRa and Sigfox will account for over 80% of the non-cellular LPWA network connections.

ABI’s ‘Low-Power Wide Area Network Market Data’ report  noted that, 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 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,” explained Adarsh Krishnan, Principal Analyst at ABI Research. “This has benefited Sigfox and LoRa, as both have witnessed a substantial increase in adoption from device OEMs and IoT solution vendors.”

LoRa technology adoption in 2018 was dominated by growth in IoT connections from private networks, with 75% year-on-year (YoY) growth. LoRa has benefited from a multi-vendor ecosystem of gateway OEMs 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 private network 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 of LoRa devices 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. These latter Sigfox solutions witnessed several successful implementations from companies such as 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.