Vodafone at the forefront of European cellular IoT players, report finds


Vodafone has been dubbed the market leader in Europe for cellular IoT but China is fuelling mass volume adoption of the technology, a new report has found.

Berg Insight said the top 10 operators in this area have a combined market share of 76 percent of global cellular IoT connections. China Mobile is first, with 150 million connections, with Vodafone, one of the most enthusiast proponents of the technology, in second place with 59 million connections by the end of the first half of last year, a figure the operator said had grown to 62 million by the end of September.

Other European operators in the top 10 were Deutsche Telekom and Telefónica, in sixth place and eighth place respectively with between 15 and 20 million connections each. Both operators were seeing yearly growth rates of between 15 and 30 percent. Berg did not provide growth rates for the other operators.

Telenor rounded out the top 10 with 12 million cellular IoT subscribers. Other operators included China Unicom, AT&T, China Telecom, Softbank/Sprint and Verizon.

Tobias Ryberg, Senior Analyst at Berg Insight, said: “In 2017, Vodafone extended its lead in the European market. The competitors are however also gaining momentum and the expanding market has room for multiple players."

According to Vodafone's IoT Barometer, which was published last year, 55 percent of enterprises are exploring NB-IoT and 52 percent LTE-M. Non-cellular technologies such as LoRa and Sigfox are of interest to 47 percent of companies.

Last month Vodafone connected oil and gas equipment with NB-IoT in Romania and launched the first NB-IoT network in Spain in January 2017.

Despite lagging behind in volume terms, Ryberg said Western mobile operators are making more revenue from their connections. He predicted AT&T, Verizon and Vodafone would share more than $1 billion in IoT sales this year.

He said: “Verizon, Vodafone and others have made significant acquisitions in the connected vehicle space to extend their product portfolios.

"AT&T and Deutsche Telekom develop dedicated practices for smart cities and many operators seek to play leading roles in national projects in areas like smart metering and electronic road charging."