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Key findings

  • 20 billion connected IoT devices by 2023
  • 1.8 billion IoT devices with cellular connections by 2023
  • More than 20 massive IoT cellular networks have been commercially launched 


20 billion connected IoT devices by 2023

By 2023, over 30 billion connected devices1 are forecast, of which around 20 billion will be related to the IoT. Connected IoT devices include connected cars, machines, meters, sensors, point-of-sale terminals, consumer electronics2 and wearables. Between 2017 and 2023, connected IoT devices are expected to increase at a CAGR of 19 percent, driven by new use cases and affordability.

Short-range and wide-area segments

In the figure below, IoT is divided into short-range and wide-area segments. The short-range segment largely consists of devices connected by unlicensed radio technologies, with a typical range of up to 100 meters, such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and Zigbee. This category also includes devices connected over fixed-line local area networks and powerline technologies.

The wide-area segment consists of devices using cellular connections, as well as unlicensed low-power technologies, such as Sigfox and LoRa.

1.8 billion IoT devices with cellular connections by 2023

At the end of 2017, there will be around 0.5 billion IoT devices with cellular connections. This number is projected to reach 1.8 billion in 2023, or around 75 percent of the wide-area category.

Presently, the dominant technology in the wide-area segment is GSM/GPRS. However, by 2023, IoT cellular connectivity will mainly be provided by LTE and 5G. The majority of these connections will be over LTE networks, while 5G technology will continue to support an increase in IoT applications, especially those requiring critical communications. 5G will also provide mechanisms for rapid and cost-effective introduction and provisioning of new IoT services.

Based on technologies like Cat-M1 and NB-IoT,3 a growing number of cellular IoT networks are being deployed, with more than 20 networks now commercially launched across several regions.4

Connected devices (billions)

In our forecast, a connected device is a physical object that has a processor, enabling communication over a network interface 

Note: Traditional landline phones are included for legacy reasons

 2 Including: Smart TVs, digital media boxes, Blu-Ray players, gaming consoles, audio/video (AV) receivers, etc.

3 Cat-M1 supports a wide range of IoT applications, including content-rich ones, and NB-IoT is streamlined for ultra-low throughput applications. Both of these technologies are deployed on LTE networks

4 GSA (October 2017)