Asia-Pacific’s Ongoing Proliferation of Mobile IoT Deployments Cements its Status as World’s Most Connected Region

Mobile IoT’s growth across Asia-Pacific continues apace, in line with predictions made by PwC and the GSMA that, by 2020, the continent will become the world’s most connected region.  GSMA Intelligence shows that Asia-Pacific continues to prove the world’s fastest-growing region in licensed low power wide area (LPWA) connections.  According to GSMAi, 2018 will see Asia-Pacific account for 59.4% of the world’s licensed LPWA connections; this is forecast to maintain steadily at about 60% over the course of 2025, dominating with over 1 billion of the world’s 1.9 billion licensed LPWA connections. In China alone, shipments of NB-IoT chip modules are forecast to leap to 100 million units in 2018, up from 5 million units the previous year; in 2025, there will be over 860 million licensed LPWA connections associated with various industry vertical applications including smart metering, connected bikes and connected agriculture, etc. across China. The recent case study released by GSMA Greater China also highlights this significant milestone.

IoT in Japan is also growing… Fast
Commercial IoT launches across Asia are numerous and ongoing. In January, KDDI became the first operator in Japan to make LTE-M network commercially available and also announced that they are collaborating with TOKYOKEIKI to build a new platform for delivery of smart utilities infrastructure – this includes development of intelligent gas meters and services. Smart utilities are among the most keenly-anticipated gains from rollout of Mobile IoT; the time-consuming and expensive process of manually checking utility meters – which are frequently in remote and difficult-to-reach locations – will increasingly be obviated, as will the inaccuracy of usage estimations.

Mid-February saw Sony partnering with Ericsson to produce an LTE-M-powered wristband for monitoring diabetes, which was later showcased at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. The watch monitors blood sugar levels, as well as heart rate and hours slept, allowing diabetics to better regulate their intake of food and insulin in line with readings.  “This concept demo is a great example of how low-cost and power-efficient connectivity can pave the way for a range of industrial and consumer IoT applications,” explains Head of Broadband and IoT at Ericsson, Marie Hogan. “We are committed to developing robust, global Massive IoT solutions that may be deployed on existing LTE networks enabling new capabilities and facilitating the support of new IoT use cases and applications.”

The rest of Asia is catching up
Collaboration across continents, as well as the ecosystem within Asia, remains vital – Asian players are not powering this growth only amongst themselves.  At the end of February Sercomm announced that they will draw on the infrastructure and expertise of Orange to deliver a new series of Mobile IoT devices across Taiwan. By leveraging Orange’s fully-deployed LTE-M network, Sercomm will offer a range of solutions for application in asset protection, transport and environmental monitoring, alongside a range of consumer devices such as child safety and smart metering.

The implications for profits, and with them further investment, are measurably encouraging. Over the course of 2017, for example, South Korean IoT businesses saw their revenues grow by more than 23 per cent to ₩7.16 trillion ($6.7 billion). In India, mobile network operator Reliance Jio Infocomm announced this month that it is working with Samsung to deploy NB-IoT nationwide, extending Mobile IoT’s reach in the world’s fastest-growing economy. The network will support a wide range of consumer and business use cases. Sri Lanka too will see a steep rise in such deployments: its largest operator Dialog Axiata PLC have rolled out the first commercial Mobile IoT network, supporting LTE-M and NB-IoT technologies, in partnership with Ericsson. Ericsson Sri Lanka & Maldives Country Manager Vinod Samarawickrama said that “a well-developed IoT ecosystem is fast becoming key for operators to enable new services and revenue streams. Our partnership with Dialog Axiata to roll out the first Massive IoT network for both NB-IoT and Cat-M1 in the country, and notably South Asia, contributes towards this fast-developing IoT ecosystem.” The evidence for this development is clear enough already, and – as the reality exceeds even the heady expectations of previous years – we can expect to see a great deal more encouraging news over the year ahead.