Cellular M2M Subscribers Expected to reach 744.2 million by 2020

Cellular M2M Subscribers



Berg Insight – a global market research firm specialising in Machine-to-Machine (M2M) and the Internet of Things (IoT) – has recently published their latest study “The Global M2M/IoT Communications Market”, which analyses trends and developments in cellular M2M and low power wireless networking.


According to Berg Insight, cellular technologies have a prominent role in the M2M/IoT market as they enable devices with data requirements to be utilised in a multitude of applications.

For many years 2G technologies have dominated cellular M2M/IoT applications, but more recently the technological landscape has undergone a rapid transition. 2G networks are now gradually being taken out of service and replaced by more efficient 3G/4G technologies.

In tandem with this, new enhancements are being added to the LTE standard to better accommodate varying M2M/IoT use-cases, which often require a large number of devices connected with low data requirements. These factors combined mean that a shift is underway from 2G to 4G LTE as the primary connectivity solution for M2M networking.

The key findings from the research include the following:

  • In 2015 East Asia, Western Europe and North America accounted for 76% of the global M2M subscriber base.
  • The global number of cellular M2M subscribers reached 265 million at the end of 2015
  • Cellular M2M subscribers is forecast to grow at 22.9% CAGR, reaching 744.2 million by 2020.
  • Cellular M2M network revenues are forecast to grow at 23.3% CAGR, from €8.0 billion in 2015 to €22.8B in 2020.


With M2M and IoT becoming a strategic focus for all types of organisations – about one in five firms globally have already adopted IoT solutions, while another 28% are planning to deploy it in the near future according to Forrester Research – it is evident that the era of M2M/IoT applications powered by cellular technologies is here to stay.

Today’s cellular networks are able to match and even outperform fixed lines in terms of speed and bandwidth, and cellular technology is now a true wireless alternative. Add to this a level of flexibility which is unobtainable by fixed line solutions, and cellular communication in both its current and enhanced future state is clearly a critical enabler in driving M2M and IoT market growth. The release of new LTE categories, such as CAT 0, have been planned with these low data, high device volume applications in mind and perfectly deliver to their requirements.

Berg shared a similar perspective and commented on the LTE enhancements that are key drivers in continuing cellular’s pertinence to the M2M and IoT market. “Berg Insight believes that the 3GPP initiative – which includes NB-IoT and LTE-M standards – will become successful in establishing a global standard for lightweight IoT communication on public networks in the next 3–5 years. NB-IOT has good prospects of becoming the dominant technology for LPWA, although other standards will most likely also remain strong in niche segments”.