Operators' reliance on the automotive sector for the health of the cellular IoT market was underlined with a report this week claiming connections will break through the half billion mark by 2022.
Berg Research said shipments of cellular IoT devices will grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 22.7 percent from 155.6 million units last year to 530.1 million in 2022.
Tobias Ryberg, Senior Analyst, said: “LTE-M and NB-IoT are the latest in a long line of cellular standards already connecting hundreds of millions of devices worldwide. Alternative non-cellular LPWA technologies have a very long way to go before they achieve the same prominence."
Ryberg's identification of the automotive market as a key driver of sales is the second time this week the sector has been tagged as integral to its future.
Strategy Analytics said automotive would be the biggest market among cellular connections, followed by utilities and security.
Turning to non-cellular devices, Berg said shipments of LPWA units hit 13.5 million last year. The market was dominated by 802.15.4 WAN, accounting for eight million connections, followed by LoRa (four million) and Sigfox (1.5 million).
Growth will be fuelled by asset tracking, buildings and security and smart cities, with LoRa and Sigfox to both hit annual shipments of between 50 million and 100 million units by 2022.
Meanwhile, a separate report from Berg predicted the CAGR of cellular M2M connections within the global retail industry will hit 10 percent during the next five years, hitting 49.2 million connections in 2020.
Shipments of cellular M2M devices will have a CAGR of 5.6 percent from 11.5 million in 2016 to 14.4 million in 2020.
Devices will be dominated by point of sale terminals, which accounted for 89 percent of all cellular retail M2M connections by the end of last year. Other key areas include parking and vending machines.
Johan Fagerberg, Senior Analyst, said: “The multi-space parking meter segment was one of the first vertical markets to embrace cellular M2M connectivity and has today reached the highest connectivity penetration of 59 percent."
He added: “Today only 1.8 million of the world’s 17.1 million vending machines are online. Every vending machine will eventually be connected, but costs for the wireless M2M hardware and subscriptions still need to come down significantly before this vision becomes reality."