Over the past two years, ABI Research has tracked 52 vendors of cellular IoT modules, accumulating all available information about their products in this category. After analyzing this data, analysts made conclusions regarding the prevalence of this or that connection technology. In particular, among the 1,037 models released by 52 companies, only a small fraction support 5G connectivity.
“While 5G is not new, only 45 models in the catalog support 5G,” said Harriet Sumnall, IoT hardware and IoT analyst at ABI Research. “This is not surprising as 5G connectivity is not applicable to many IoT applications outside of the automotive space and for fixed wireless terminals due to the initial release of 5G modems aimed at the consumer mobile broadband market.”
The most common is 4G connectivity. It is supported in 60% of the modules, including both low bandwidth options, Cat.1 to Cat.4, and high bandwidth options, Cat.12 to Cat.20. The pluses of 4G include its widespread adoption, which makes it the preferred option in the medium to long term. Another 20% of the modules in the catalog are models with Low Power Wide Area (LPWA) support, namely NB-IoT and LTE-M. Analysts point out that LPWA is still in its early stages of growth and most of its module sales to date come from China. Nevertheless, analysts are confident that in the coming years, LPWA will become the leading technology for many applications, for example, for smart street lighting.