IoT connections outlook

NB-IoT and Cat-M technologies are projected to account for more than 50 percent of cellular IoT connections in 2025.

Report  | 

Key findings

  • The number of cellular IoT connections are projected to reach 5 billion in 2025.
  • NB-IoT and Cat-M technologies are expected to account for over 50 percent of these.
  • The number of IoT connections of all types is forecast to reach almost 25 billion by 2025.


The Massive IoT technologies NB-IoT and Cat-M[1] continue to be rolled out around the world. 2G and 3G connectivity still enable the majority of IoT applications, but during 2019 the number of Massive IoT connections are estimated to have increased by a factor of 3, reaching close to 100 million at the end of the year.

Massive IoT primarily consists of wide-area use cases, connecting massive numbers of low-complexity, low-cost devices with long battery life and relatively low throughput. NB-IoT and Cat-M technologies complement each other, and many service providers are deploying both technologies. Out of the 114 service providers[2] identified as having launched at least one of the NB-IoT or LTE-M technologies, close to 25 percent have launched both technologies. At the end of 2025, NB-IoT and Cat-M are projected to account for 52 percent of all cellular IoT connections. Broadband IoT mainly includes wide-area use cases that require higher throughput, lower latency and larger data volumes than Massive IoT technologies can support. LTE is already supporting many use cases in this segment. By the end of 2025, 28 percent of cellular IoT connections will be broadband IoT, with 4G connecting the majority.

Critical IoT includes both wide-area and local-area use cases that have requirements for extremely low latency and ultra-high reliability. The first modules supporting Critical IoT use cases are expected to be deployed in 2020. Only a small fraction of total cellular IoT connections will be Critical IoT in 2025.

North East Asia is leading the global adoption of cellular IoT. At the end of 2019, it is estimated that the region will account for 60 percent of all cellular IoT connections, a figure set to increase to 68 percent in 2025. This reflects both the ambition and size of the cellular IoT market in this region.

Cellular IoT connections by segment and technology (billion)
IoT connections (billion)

[1] -Cat-M includes both Cat-M1 and Cat-M2. Only Cat-M1 is being supported today

[2] - GSA, Oct 2019