There are a range of technologies available for IoT such as traditional cellular (2G/3G/4G), Low Power Wide Area, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and more. Every use case has specific needs, which translate into certain technology requirements that determine the choice of most suitable connectivity technology. Our analysis identifies and groups these technology requirements into three categories – technical, commercial and ecosystem related, thus providing a structured approach enterprises can use to analyze their requirements:
- Technical requirements – coverage, energy efficiency, data rate, other features relevant to specific applications (bidirectional communication, mobility, localization);
- Commercial requirements – quality of service, cost, security, scalability;
- Ecosystem requirements – future proofness, global reach and interoperability.
No single technology or solution is ideally suited to serve all potential IoT use cases and certain technologies will coexist alongside, as complementing rather than competing standards. Currently, there are also various actors within these technologies that are aiming to establish their market dominance and ecosystem. The current fragmentation is not sustainable for the industry in the long run and leaders will emerge.
According to our analysis, for IoT deployments in remote/wide areas, LoRa, NB-IoT and LTE-M are good complements and together will address a large share of this market. LoRa’s dynamic open ecosystem is ideal for private networks with customized deployment, while NB-IoT and LTE-M are backed by major mobile operators offering standardized connectivity with global reach. Other proprietary technologies, like Sigfox, may address certain niche segments but their future proofness is to be time tested. For applications requiring high data rate, the most suitable technology options are either LTE, Wi-Fi or BLE, depending on the scope of the IoT deployments. For local short range applications, the choice of connectivity technology is less obvious and often the interfaces and implementation of platform and application layers become more crucial. From around 2020 onwards, 5G networks will also start to be commercially available, bringing improved capabilities to address both massive and critical communication use cases.
Finally, this report provides some case studies and discusses the needs of various application areas, such as automotive, smart cities, industrial manufacturing, in order to illustrate which technologies can be best suited to serve those needs.
The Internet of Things (IoT) is transforming many industries and will create value for both businesses and their customers. This report aims to provide a structured approach enterprises can use to analyze their requirements for connectivity technology, deliver insights about the connectivity technologies available and how they can serve the needs of specific application areas and use cases.