5 Billion IoT Cellular Module Will Ship Globally During 2019-2025. 4G, LTE Cat-M & NB-IoT in Hyper-Growth

Seoul, Hong Kong, New Delhi, Beijing, London, Buenos Aires, San Diego

Jan 8th, 2019

Top three players, Chinese vendor SIMCom (Sunsea AIoT), Quectel Wireless and Canadian vendor Sierra Wireless will take centre stage by competing neck to neck in volumes. However, Sierra Wireless still leads in revenue. Moving forward, 4G, LTE-M, and NB-IoT will be key volume drivers.


According to the latest research from Counterpoint’s IoT (Internet of Things) Service, global cellular IoT module shipments will grow by 79% YoY in 2018 driven by Low Power Wireless Access (LPWA) IoT applications. These applications include connected bikes, smart meters, smoke detectors, livestock etc.

Commenting on the competitive landscape in the cellular IoT module segment, Counterpoint Research Analyst, Satyajit Sinha, noted, “Unlike smartphones, the things or devices are being connected to the internet by integrating wireless IoT modules. These IoT modules which embed cellular capability have changed the entire IoT landscape by adding long-range, secure and scalable wireless connectivity. The IoT module industry has evolved a lot in the last year. The market which was once dominated by integrating low-cost 2G connectivity started transitioning to Cellular LPWA (dominated by NB-IoT) on one end and from 3G to 4G LTE/5G for higher bandwidth applications such as connected car, smart surveillance camera, etc.

The IoT cellular module market had been dominated by two suppliers, China-based SIMCom and Canada base Sierra Wireless. However, over the last 20 months, another low-cost Chinese module supplier, Quectel has grown swiftly capturing the second spot by IoT module shipments in 2018 surpassing Sierra Wireless. However, from an IoT module shipment revenue perspective, Sierra Wireless remains the market leader. However, the rise of LPWA technology such NB-IoT with growing scale in the market such as China, 2018 saw the rise of long-tail IoT module suppliers in China such as Neoway, Fibocom, Gosuncn, Lierda, Rinlink, and Yuge.”

Exhibit 1: Global Cellular IoT Module Shipments market share by Volume in 2018E

Source:  Global IoT Cellular Module Tracker by Tech, by App: 2009-2025

Mr. Sinha, further added, “IoT System-on-chip (Soc)/System- in- package (SiP), where MCU is integrated with modem/baseband will be the next wave of IoT evolution and it will change the dynamics of the IoT module market. This is mainly driven by semiconductor players like Huawei, GCT, Qualcomm, MediaTek, Sequans, Nordic, Altair, etc. The player like Huawei is looking to drive NB-IoT SoCs to sub-dollar price points for example with Boudica series.”

Adding his perspective, Senior Analyst, Hanish Bhatia noted, “According to our research, global IoT cellular connections are slated to cross 5 billion bark by 2025 and NB-IoT is to contribute to nearly half. In 2018, we saw some of the cellular LPWA applications deployment adopting either LTE-M or NB-IoT depending on geography and respective operators’ LPWA network strategy. Ideally, for cost perspective, many of these applications would have been deployed cheaper NB-IoT solutions. This is being realized by some of the western operators which deployed LTE-M initially and now looking at the NB-IoT revolution in China and are adding NB-IoT to their IoT network strategy roadmap.”

Mr. Bhatia, further added, “Additionally, some operators have deployed hybrid wireless IoT networks with both licensed and unlicensed LPWA technologies such as NB-IoT/LTE-M and LoRa/Sigfox respectively. Cost and the ease of deployment using an unlicensed band are the key benefits for adopting LoRa/Sigfox technologies.”

Commenting on the latest trends of IoT module vendors, Senior Analyst, Ethan Qi, added, “Selling IoT module hardware alone is not enough anymore for the suppliers to survive. Companies like Sierra Wireless, Gemalto have benefited from bundling the modules with IoT solution integration /support services, middleware, software platform, application development toolkits, cloud platform, analytics, and end-to-end security. Even the low-cost Chinese suppliers such as SUNSEA AIoT (SIMCom+Longsun) entered into a strategic partnership with Ayla Networks to provide a cloud base IoT module. We believe this is the path to go to remain the market leader in IoT and capture maximum value across the IoT value chain.”

Exhibit 2: Global Cellular IoT Module Shipments market share by Revenue in 2018E

Source: Global IoT Cellular Module Tracker by Tech, by App: 2009-2025 

Looking at future deployments, Mr Qi, added, “Industry is moving towards intelligent /smart modules always securely connected to the cloud, leveraging cloud computing. However, we will also see the increasing adoption of intelligence at the edge which is at the module level, leveraging AI driven edge computing capabilities. This edge computing is driven by top cloud computing players such as Google, Microsoft, Amazon, FogHorn, and others closely working with the number of semiconductor and module vendors such as ST-Micro, NXP, Qualcomm, silicon-labs, USI, etc.”


The comprehensive and in-depth report on “ Global IoT Cellular Module Tracker and Forecast By Technology By Application: 2009-2025” is a part of our Counterpoint’s IoT (Internet of Things) Service. This report is available for download here



Counterpoint Technology Market Research is a global research firm specializing in Technology products in the TMT industry. It services major technology firms and financial firms with a mix of monthly reports, customized projects and detailed analysis of the mobile and technology markets. Its key analysts are experts in the industry with an average tenure of 13 years in the high-tech industry.

Analyst Contacts:

 Satyajit Sinha



Hanish Bhatia
+91 9871849857


Ethan Qi


 Counterpoint Research