Spectrum is used to carry information wirelessly for a vast number of vital services ranging from mobile phones and Wi-Fi to terrestrial and satellite broadcasting. The mobile industry depends on internationally harmonised spectrum to provide affordable services to billions of people and connected devices. Without sufficient spectrum, that is made available under the right conditions, the mobile industry cannot deliver the connectivity on which the digital economy depends.

The GSMA works to ensure that mobile operators have timely, affordable and fair access to sufficient spectrum to meet rapidly growing demand for mobile broadband and Internet of Things (IoT) services. The viability of cellular-based IoT is contingent on governments adopting a positive regulatory framework, especially as it pertains to mobile spectrum.  The GSMA’s position is that:

Regulators should adopt a service/technology neutral framework to support cellular IoT
Licensed spectrum is vital in order to deliver the most reliable, high quality IoT services
Licensed spectrum has the capacity and coverage capabilities to support IoT growth
International spectrum harmonisation is vital for a global, affordable cellular IoT market
Regulators should work with the mobile industry to support IoT in 5G spectrum planning

GSMA members can access confidential information related to this topic here

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Africa and Middle East

IoT  is still at a nascent stage in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). IoT connection are expected to be just under 700 million by 2021 with 76 million being cellular IoT. (Machina Research 2016). The IoT market is mainly driven by the involvement of a number of Gulf countries’ governments in smart city plans, including Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the UAE. Smart city programmes play a central role in their economic development strategies Operators in the gulf region have offered IoT connected services since 2011 and have been involved in a number of vertical markets such as energy management, fleet vehicle tracking and smart city applications. Turkey is another developed market, with operators partnering across major vertical segments, such as fleet vehicle tracking and POS-terminals and planning to be involved in a number of smart city applications roll-outs.

Asia Pacific

Asia Pacific (APAC) represent the single largest market for IoT services with an expected 7 billion connection by 2021, out of which roughly half a billion will be powered by cellular connections (Machina Research 2016). The region is home to many organisations active in IoT, from the Shenzhen manufacturing base, to consumer electronics companies like Samsung and heavy industrial organisations, like Hitachi Construction Machinery. No other region has a similarly wide and diverse set of organisations involved in IoT. Inevitably, the size of the potential market and local activity are also attracting international organisations to focus IoT initiatives in the region Government interest in IoT is higher in APAC than anywhere else in the world. In Japan, Korea, China, India, Malaysia and Singapore governments have promoted national IoT strategies. National IoT policy plans are a key tool for governments to develop long term strategy to: Promote a long-term strategy and policy agenda setting Favour the co-ordination across different government departments Promote an open regional industry-led  approach to IoT policy Find out more about APAC IoT national plans and a lot more in this section.


Europe is set to be one of the most important markets for IoT with an expected 4.3 Billion connections active by 2021, out of which 420 million are expected to be served by cellular networks (Machina Research 2016). The positive impact of the IoT will be significant. PWC estimates that mHealth could save 99 billion EUR in healthcare costs in the European Union (EU) and add 93 billion EUR to the EU GDP in 2017 if its adoption is encouraged. EU policy makers and regulatory bodies such as BEREC have looked into IoT and positively recognise the fundamental differences between IoT and traditional telecoms. They also recognise the tremendous opportunities that IoT represents, and have thus embraced open policies to promote IoT.


In this section find all resources that take on a global perspective. These resources deal with general IoT policy and regulatory matters which are not specific to one region only, but apply worldwide.

Latin America

In Latin America, IoT is still at a nascent stage. However, the market is set to grow rapidly over the next years, reaching the 1 Billion mark by 2021 (Machina Research 2016). Cellular IoT is estimated to serve 80 million connection by then. The main IoT applications in Latin America are the payment, automotive and utilities industries. Brazil leads in terms of the adoption of cellular M2M in the Point-of-Sale (PoS) terminals, but PoS is also an important vertical in a range of other countries in the region, such as Colombia and Chile. The automotive sector will be the major growth driver, with applications such as vehicle tracking, fleet management as well as Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) embedded solutions continuing to increase in deployment terms. The utilities sector also has huge potential to embrace M2M centred solutions, however, operators in Latin America underscore that the adoption of smart metering depends on the readiness and willingness of utility companies to make investments into reducing non-technical losses, primarily from energy theft and fraud.

North America

North America has seen significant growth in the number of IoT connections over recent years. This is set to continue dramatically over the next five year to almost 4 Billion connections, with an expected 270,000 being cellular IoT (Machina Research 2016). The United States is one of the largest and most advanced M2M markets in the world. Here, IoT solutions and services are widely used in many different sectors of the economy. In the automotive industry, the US was one of the first countries in the world to deploy connected cars. Connected car services were first launched here in 1996 and since then has progressed. Nowadays several automakers are equip mid-range and premium vehicles with connected services. Major US mobile operators have long offered far more than connectivity, developing sophisticated platforms, supporting a range of business models,  promoting data analytics and diversifying in various verticals such as automotive, home security and telemedicine to fully realise the opportunities

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