The current pandemic may have slowed down global shipments of cellular IoT modules temporarily, but the adoption of smart factories and 5G will accelerate the demand for these in the next few years.
By Soumen Mandal
The negative impact of COVID-19 outbreak has caused global shipments of cellular IoT modules to reduce by 4 per cent YoY and 28 per cent QoQ during Q1 2020, according to the Counterpoint Global Cellular IoT Module and Chipset Tracker. However, during this same period, IoT module shipments based on the Low Power Wireless Access (LPWA) technology increased by 51 per cent, offsetting the decline in demand for automotive and other mobility applications.
Falling prices, lower power consumption and extended coverage are the major reasons for the growing popularity of LPWA modules among other cellular technologies.
Driven by a wider geographic reach, faster time-to-market, excellent IoT application support, aggressive marketing and a broader portfolio with the MC, M and BC series modules performing well, Quectel managed to retain the top spot in the global cellular IoT module market. However, SLM152, ME909 and SIM868 modules from Meig, Huawei and SIMCom respectively, did well to help these brands compete with Quectel.
Further, cost-effectiveness has also helped other Chinese players like Fibocom, MobileTek, Lierda and Neoway to increase their share in the global cellular IoT module market. International vendors such as Gemalto, Sierra, Telit and u-blox continued to maintain top rankings behind Sunsea IoT and Quectel with strongholds in North America, Europe and other developed markets.
Aman Madhok, senior analyst at Counterpoint Research, says: “Industrial, enterprise and automotive sectors are the top application areas for cellular IoT modules. With the scope of connectivity and autonomy increasing in automobiles, the demand for 4G and 5G modules will rise in coming years.”
“Again, smart manufacturing and smart industry applications in the age of Industry 4.0 will see an increasing demand for cellular IoT modules to reduce power consumption, to increase efficiency in the production process, and to connect machines to the cloud for optimal business planning,” he adds.
Commenting on future deployments, at Counterpoint Research, Fahad Siddiqui at Counterpoint Research says: “China will dominate the global cellular IoT module market in the coming years, with North America and western Europe emerging as important markets.”
With more deployments of the 5G network around the world, the demand for 5G modules will increase. Connected vehicles, CPEs and routers for FWA (fixed wireless access), industrial robots and video surveillance will be some of the key areas driven by 5G IoT module applications, especially in markets such as North America, China, Korea, Taiwan, Japan and the UK.
The author is a research associate at Counterpoint Research.