China is now the most connected country in the world, home to more connections than anywhere else, and projected to dwarf even those of the United States by 2020. China has been pursuing IoT’s development as a matter of national priority: in 2010 a National IoT Centre was established in Shanghai, and in Q4 2017 the government announced it would step up financial support for major industrial projects under its Made in China 2025 strategy, which seeks to upgrade the country’s manufacturing capability in IoT and smart appliances. The Chinese government estimates that Industrial IoT (IIoT) will grow to around $65 billion by 2020, accounting for about one quarter of the IoT market overall; IIoT has maintained an astonishing growth rate and is projected to grow by 276 per cent over the next fifteen years. Cumulatively, the growth of China’s GDP from IoT technologies will reach $1.8 trillion by 2030.
Smart Metering will benefit most from Mobile IoT
Mobile IoT, the family of cellular technologies which connect devices via licensed low power, wide area (LPWA) networks, is playing a central role in this process. Now widely deployed in cities across China, Mobile IoT has a growing track record of success in providing management and analytic solutions across utilities, enterprises, and a range of service and solution providers, as well as successful partnerships with government bodies. In water metering for instance, LPWA connectivity allows for far longer life cycles among connected meters while simultaneously driving down costs, as battery lives are extended from around two to fifteen years and data load requirements are reduced to mere hundreds of bytes. Following successful pilots in Shenzen, China Telecom launched commercial smart metering of water services using NB-IoT last year, and China Mobile has partnered with public agencies to use the technology to conduct remote monitoring of water quality.
The advantages IoT technologies make possible in manufacturing, too, are considerable. The data generated by bringing manufacturing processes online can be used, for instance, to scenario-test products and anticipate faults, allowing brands to improve design ahead of release and avoid reputational damage. This can make the difference between a product making an overall return or loss. Not only are sales clearly aided by well-received products, but prevention is always cheaper than cure, and as such manufacturers will always prefer to avoid paying out large sums on recalls and repairs.
Industrial IoT is growing tremendously in China
Despite China’s remarkable progress in Industrial IoT, however, significant challenges remain here as elsewhere. The lack of interoperability standards for instance has proved a major barrier to implementation, with 52 per cent of respondents to a survey by Deloitte reporting difficulties applying IIoT technologies for this reason. 46 per cent of respondents cited issues around ownership and security of data as a major problem – the market is yet to reach a consensus on whether manufacturers or users own the data generated through IIoT, which presents questions over longer-term investment based on data use. Skills shortages too remain an issue, with 42 per cent of companies surveyed reporting difficulty in securing relevant technical personnel to deal with new systems architecture. Manufacturing firms have faced considerable challenges in differentiating their offerings clearly on the market and fostering ecosystem collaboration.
Meet the industry experts in the IoT ecosystem on 28 June
The GSMA is committed to aiding resolution of these and other obstacles to the IIoT’s development. This year’s Mobile World Congress Shanghai will host a special IoT Summit bringing together key stakeholders in the 4th Industrial Revolution, to exchange thoughts on how the challenges of the day can be overcome. Delegates will join speakers from across the ecosystem to consider issues around network security, achieving value from data analytics, market deployments, and how best to foster ecosystem growth in future. The event is free to all VIP and Gold Pass holders, and Exhibition Pass holders can purchase tickets for a top-up fee here. We hope to see many of you there, at the Shanghai New International Expo Centre, between 9:30 and 17:30 on June 28, for what promises to be an exceptionally revealing day of analysis by some of the industry’s leading voices.