Global Cellular IoT Connections to Cross 6 Billion in 2030

  • Global cellular IoT connections grew 29% YoY to reach 2.7 billion in 2022 with 4G continuing to grow its majority share.
  • China held more than two-thirds of total cellular IoT connections in 2022, followed by Europe and North America.
  • NB-IoT dominates in China, while LTE-M is preferred in Australia, Japan and North America; Europe supports both.
  • 4G and NB-IoT are the most preferred technologies for cellular IoT applications.
  • 5G is nascent as module prices and breadth of applications reflect early-stage dynamics.
  • IoT growth drivers are shifting, with the enterprise and transformation initiatives key in propelling IoT connections forward.

San Diego, Buenos Aires, London, New Delhi, Hong Kong, Beijing, Seoul – June 12, 2023

Global cellular IoT connections grew strongly at 29% YoY to reach 2.7 billion in 2022, according to Counterpoint’s latest Global Cellular IoT Connections Tracker report. They are expected to grow at a CAGR of 10.8% to reach an installed base of over 6 billion by 2030. China held more than two-thirds of total cellular IoT connections in 2022, followed by Europe and North America.

Amid the challenges faced by various industries, such as inflation, macroeconomic headwinds and supply chain constraints, the cellular IoT market has experienced remarkable growth fuelled by the digital transformation initiatives undertaken by various industry applications like smart meters, automobiles and asset tracking in particular. Cellular IoT connectivity has played a significant role in enhancing productivity, streamlining operations, minimizing downtime, automating processes and generating cost savings for industries. The COVID-19 outbreak unexpectedly proved beneficial for enterprise IoT players, accelerating their digital transformation efforts.

Commenting on the cellular IoT connectivity technology dynamics, Senior Research Analyst Soumen Mandal said, “At the end of 2022, 4G and NB-IoT together accounted for nearly 90% of the installed base of cellular IoT connections. 4G emerged as the most preferred technology for cellular IoT connections after surpassing 2G and 3G-based IoT connections in 2016. NB-IoT has gained significant popularity in China, while Japan, Australia and North America prefer LTE-M technology for lower-end applications. Europe has adopted a combination of NB-IoT and LTE-M, supported by roaming services offered by most operators.

In recent times, 4G Cat 1 bis technology has gained significant popularity over NB-IoT due to its superior performance. Applications such as POS, telematics and smart meters are increasingly adopting this technology on a larger scale. The rising shipments of devices based on 4G Cat 1 and 4G Cat 1 bis technologies are contributing to the stagnant market growth of NB-IoT.

5G is still nascent but we expect 5G-based applications to pick up as the module ASP (average selling price) drops to sub-$100 and more 5G RedCap-based solutions become available in the market. The introduction of 5G RedCap and 5G eRedCap will play a crucial role in driving mass adoption of 5G, particularly in developing and underdeveloped countries.”

Global Cellular IoT Connections Installed Base-Counterpoint Researcht

Commenting on the market outlook, Research Vice President Neil Shah said, “The global cellular IoT connections installed base is expected to surpass 6 billion by 2030 with a CAGR of 10.8%. The growth will be mainly driven by cellular connectivity adoption across various sectors such as utilities, automotive, industrial, retail and healthcare. Unlike the previous decade, where consumer devices like smartphones and PCs played a significant role in driving cellular connections, this decade will see a shift towards cellular connections being propelled by the digital transformation initiatives undertaken by enterprise IoT payers. The widespread adoption of cellular connectivity will also contribute to a further reduction in prices for cellular-connected devices, making them more competitive against alternative non-cellular connectivity technologies like LoRa, Sigfox and Wi-SUN. Over the past year, the cellular IoT industry has witnessed many consolidations, including Telit’s acquisition of Thales’ cellular IoT business, Semtech’s acquisition of Sierra Wireless, and Aeris Communications’ acquisition of Ericsson’s IoT accelerator and connected vehicle cloud business. As the cellular IoT module market continues to mature, we can expect more consolidations aimed at providing improved solutions and maintaining competitiveness against other non-cellular connectivity technologies.” 

The comprehensive and in-depth ‘Global Cellular IoT Connections Tracker, 2022’ report is now available for purchase at

Feel free to reach us at for questions regarding our latest research and insights.


Counterpoint Technology Market Research is a global research firm specializing in products in the technology, media and telecom (TMT) industry. It services major technology and financial firms with a mix of monthly reports, customized projects and detailed analyses of the mobile and technology markets. Its key analysts are seasoned experts in the high-tech industry.

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Soumen Mandal

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Neil Shah

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Mohit Agrawal

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Global Connected Agriculture Node Shipments to Reach 187 Million Units by 2030

  • Global connected agriculture node shipments will grow at a CAGR of 30% from 23 million units in 2022 to reach 187 million units by 2030.
  • Crop farming will be the fastest growing segment in the connected agriculture market, followed by drones and robots, tractors, and livestock monitoring.
  • Connectivity penetration in farms will remain below 10% by 2030.
  • China, Europe and North America will be key markets for connected agriculture equipment.

San Diego, Buenos Aires, London, New Delhi, Hong Kong, Beijing, Seoul – May 4, 2023

Global connected agriculture device/node shipments will grow by 30% annually to reach 187 million units by 2030 from 23 million in 2022, according to Counterpoint’s latest Global Connected Agriculture Market report. The need for connectivity is driven by large farms and livestock, and manpower shortage in some countries. China will grow the fastest over the forecast period to become the top market for connected agriculture products. Further, the connected agriculture market’s crop farming segment is expected to grow at the fastest pace (41% CAGR) during 2023-2030, followed by drones and robots, tractors, and livestock monitoring.

Connected agriculture, also known as smart farming or digital farming, refers to the use of technology, such as sensors, drones and other digital tools, to optimize agricultural production. Connected agriculture enables farmers to monitor and manage their crops and livestock more efficiently by collecting and analyzing data in real time. This data can help farmers make more informed decisions about planting, irrigation, fertilization, pest control and other things. Connected agriculture allows for more precise and targeted use of resources, which can reduce waste and improve yields.

Commenting on connected farm equipment like tractors, drones and agriculture robots, Senior Research Analyst Soumen Mandal said, “Drones are emerging as a key technology supporting agriculture primarily for visual inspection, spraying and mapping. But the current usage is very low due to the non-availability of skilled manpower, insufficient battery life and high computational costs. Similarly, the usage of robots in agriculture is still limited due to technological challenges and high prices. However, there will be significant potential for drones and robotics going forward, especially in China, Europe and North America.

The rising trends of electrification and autonomous operations are driving connectivity adoption in the tractor market. India has a 45% share in the global tractor market but the country’s brands are very selective in providing connected solutions, thus slowing the overall connectivity penetration in the global tractor market.”

Global Connected Agriculture market landscape

Senior Research Analyst Akshara Bassi said, “We will see increased penetration of smart devices, especially smart collars and pedometers among livestock farmers, in the coming years due to the productivity benefits and ease of livestock management offered by these devices. We expect the smart livestock market to grow at 18% annually over the forecast period driven by lower pricing, mass availability of affordable connectivity options, low maintenance of the devices and subsidies by governments to digitize agriculture.” Bassi added, “Increase in labor wages and shortage of labor also drive the farms to automate some of the tasks without impacting their productivity.”

Commenting on the market outlook, Associate Director Mohit Agrawal said, “During the forecast period, the shipments of connected agricultural devices and end nodes are expected to increase by 30% YoY to reach 187 million units from 23 million units in 2022, mainly driven by the crop farming industry. China is projected to be the largest market, propelled by government initiatives and the rise of cooperative farming. Meanwhile, in Western markets such as the US and Europe, the adoption of technology is driven by the large size of farms and manpower scarcity. Despite having the world’s largest arable land, India is expected to lag behind in technology adoption due to the relatively small size of its farms.

The lack of technology awareness among farmers, small landholdings and inadequate cellular network coverage in farming areas are the key challenges for connected farming. As a result, the penetration of connectivity in farms will remain below 10% even in 2030, and a significant proportion of the connected nodes will rely on non-cellular technologies.”

The comprehensive and in-depth ‘Global Connected Agriculture Market, 2022 report is now available for purchase at

Feel free to reach us at for questions regarding our latest research and insights.


Counterpoint Technology Market Research is a global research firm specializing in products in the technology, media and telecom (TMT) industry. It services major technology and financial firms with a mix of monthly reports, customized projects and detailed analyses of the mobile and technology markets. Its key analysts are seasoned experts in the high-tech industry.

Analyst Contacts

Mohit Agrawal

Soumen Mandal

Akshara Bassi

Counterpoint Research

Related reports


u-blox Continues Strong Growth in H1 2022

u-blox recorded an excellent H1 2022 with $311.9 million in total revenues, an increase of 47% from H1 2021 despite macroeconomic headwinds. The demand and interest in u-blox products remained strong across all markets and business segments. The strategy of remodeling and redesigning its products has worked for u-blox in dealing with specific shortages. This time, u-blox changed module design a lot to cut component shortages and clear backlogs.

H1 2022 highlights

  • u-blox’s gross profit increased 53.9% YoY in H1 2022 to reach $152.4 million.
  • The industrial segment captured 61% of the company’s total revenue and grew 62% YoY due to higher demand for automation and healthcare applications. The automotive segment also grew 62% YoY and its revenue contributed 28% to the total revenue. The consumer segment grew 18% YoY and captured 10% of the total revenue. In this segment, the growth mainly came from consumer telematics applications.
  • Americas and APAC regions grew more than 50% YoY while EMEA grew 30%. This growth was driven by industry-focused solutions for automation, mobility, healthcare and network applications. APAC’s growth despite China lockdowns was a testament to u-blox’s strong pipeline of design wins.
  • In the first half of 2022, modules and GNSS chips contributed 81% and 18% of the total revenue respectively. The module volume grew by 34.3% YoY in H1 2022 to reach nearly 27 million.

The ASP of modules and chipsets increased 20% and 46% YoY respectively due to supply chain constraints and product mix-ups.

u-blox H1 2022 financials, Counterpoint

GNSS modules

u-blox’s GNSS module shipments grew 56% YoY in H1 2022, contributing more than half of the total module revenue. The good quality and position accuracy of its GNSS products helped u-blox grow this market significantly. This year, it launched the smallest GNSS module, MIA-M10, with its latest technology targeting size-constrained applications like asset-tracking devices, pet trackers, livestock trackers and wearables. Xiaoan selected the u-blox M10 product to enhance the positioning performance of shared motorcycles and electric bicycles.

Wi-Fi/BT modules

In H1 2022, u-blox’s Wi-Fi/BT module segment grew 24% YoY to reach a revenue of nearly $30 million. In short-range radio modules (Wi-Fi and Bluetooth), u-blox continued to expand its capabilities. It launched Wi-Fi 6-based modules, which are ideal for industrial, smart home and mass-market applications.

Cellular IoT modules

In recent times, we have seen international module players merging their cellular IoT businesses to become more competitive in this space. u-blox is slowly recovering its cellular IoT module business. In H1 2022, u-blox’s cellular IoT module segment grew 36% compared to H1 2021, according to Counterpoint Research’s Cellular IoT Module Tracker Service. u-blox provided flexibility to its customers by launching new products. However, we expect u-blox will focus more on GNSS products and services compared to cellular IoT modules, considering growth opportunities.

GNSS chips

The quality of u-blox’s GNSS chipsets is far better than other players, which is helping u-blox witness continued growth in this market. With the rising demand for positioning and location-based ecosystems, u-blox will be able to record a multi-fold increase in its revenue by targeting applications like passenger and commercial vehicles, asset tracking, micro-mobility, surveillance, industrial and healthcare.

Market outlook

The steady expansion of u-blox’s production capacity and strong bookings resulted in this record revenue in H1 2022. Within the first half of 2022, its order book value doubled compared to the end of 2021, which makes u-blox well-positioned to continue to grow revenues and improve profitability. It is already managing well the supply constraint situation. We expect u-blox’s revenue will grow nearly 50% YoY in 2022.

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Can Semtech’s Acquisition of Sierra Wireless Change Offerings in IoT Space?

US-based semiconductor manufacturer and LoRa pioneer Semtech announced a $1.2-billion deal on Wednesday to acquire Canada-based cellular IoT module and device supplier Sierra Wireless. The deal comes after last week’s merger deal between Telit and Thales’ cellular IoT business. The IoT module market has entered a consolidation phase and we can expect a few more announcements in the near future.

The IoT module market is fragmented. Many brands are struggling to improve performance, scale up products and face competitors. Some players are moving towards services, which comprise 77% value of the total IoT value chain, for better revenue opportunities instead of sticking to hardware only. For example, u-blox acquired Thingstream in 2020 to generate more revenue and offer complete IoT solutions, from chipset to cloud. In some cases, companies are trying to build up their own supply chain ecosystem through integration. For example, Quectel entered the IoT antenna space last year. In the future, we may witness some large players offload their cellular IoT module business which is not a core business for them.

Sierra Wireless IoT module market share Counterpoint

The Semtech-Sierra Wireless deal is an important announcement for the IoT space. It can change offerings in the IoT industry. Here are some key takeaways from this deal from Counterpoint analysts:

  • Sierra Wireless is mainly focused on the cellular business, whereas Semtech is focused on the non-cellular business. The ultra-low power benefits of LoRa and higher-bandwidth capabilities of cellular networks will bring innovation to IoT use cases. They can also solve problems faced in massive IoT adoption across all segments.
  • International brands such as Sierra Wireless, Telit, Thales and u-blox were struggling to compete with Chinese module vendors such as Quectel, Fibocom and MeiG in terms of scale and bringing innovation to the field.
  • Sierra Wireless divested its auto business in 2020 to focus on the router/CPE segment but the COVID-19 pandemic, supply chain disruptions and ransomware attack hit Sierra Wireless’ efforts to regain its market share last year. Interestingly, the automotive spin-off business was acquired by a consortium led by Chinese module vendor Fibocom.
  • We also witnessed a corner-room change at Sierra Wireless to revive brand glory when Phil Brace replaced Kent Thexton as the CEO in July 2021.
  • This year, Sierra Wireless divested its Omnilink offender monitoring business to Sentinel for $37.6 million. This was not a core business for the company and it offloaded Omnilink to focus more on the services industry. Product segments can generate revenue for one time, whereas services can generate revenue on a recurring basis. That is why we have been seeing many IoT module players shifting towards IoT platforms, cloud and services.
  • According to its chip-to-cloud strategy for IoT adoption, Semtech aims to offer solutions across the IoT value chain. However, it has no good presence in the module, device and platform categories. Moreover, LoRa isn’t suitable for each IoT application. LoRa and cellular technologies may complement each other in serving segments across the IoT value chain.
  • Sierra Wireless will bring a rich experience of cellular IoT modules, cellular gateways and cloud service platform to Semtech, while Semtech will offer LoRa chips, LoRa gateways and cloud services. In the future, we may see more hybrid cellular+LoRa solutions instead of dual cellular module-based solutions. In this type of application, the cellular module can be used for data communication and LoRa can be used for device management and other applications where a low payload is required. This can change offerings in the IoT module space and help Semtech increase its market share in the cellular space too.
  • Semtech already has a good hold on smart meter, smart city, industrial, smart grid and asset-tracking applications through LoRa solutions. The addition of Sierra Wireless products will help Semtech target high-end markets such as security cameras, gateways, fleet and PC.

IoT Value Chain Counterpoint


The combined entity is looking for a 10x growth opportunity to reach a $10-billion serviceable addressable market (SAM) by 2027. To achieve this figure, IoT platform and cloud services will play a pivotal role as these can contribute revenue on a recurring basis. At the same time, Semtech needs to be careful not to disrupt the standalone LoRa ecosystem partners and customers. We believe cellular+LoRa-based industrial applications such as security, smart campus, factory and private networks will be a big opportunity for Semtech.

Related post

LPWANs Will Co-Exist, No War Brewing Between Cellular and Non-Cellular

Our connectivity needs are expanding in all directions. While we’re moving aggressively with 5G connectivity to address the need of ultra-low latency networks, the communication needs of IoT are being met through LPWA technologies. The majority of IoT applications require long range, low bit-rate and small power budget, transmission protocols. The chart below highlights where LPWA sits among other connectivity options:

Most machine-to-machine (M2M) connections over the last decade have been using 2G or 2.5G connectivity, which was not cost-effective, primarily due to high power consumption, modem cost, high bandwidth, etc. Meanwhile, the industry also transitioned from M2M to IoT creating a different set of connectivity needs. Initially, non-cellular protocols – Sigfox, LoRa and others – pitched in to fill this space, however, network operators soon realized the untapped potential and jumped into the market with their solutions. At present, there is an array of different technologies competing within the LPWA space, including non-cellular protocols such as Sigfox, LoRa, Weightless, RPMA, and cellular protocols such as EC-GSM, LTE-M and NB-IoT.

While the business model and technologies are different, the target markets are similar with both technologies suitable for different IoT applications (with a subtle overlap of suitability). This means there is a subtle trade-off to be made across the various compromises that each technology offers.

Sigfox and LoRa Competing in Non-Cellular Space

Among non-cellular LPWANs, Sigfox and LoRa have been at the forefront, while other have struggled to build scale, despite some technological advantages. Between Sigfox and LoRa, the most important underlying difference is the business model.

  • Sigfox is following a network operator model, with open endpoint technology. Silicon manufacturers can partner to manufacture the required radio hardware.
  • Sigfox earns by partnering with network operators, who pay royalties for reselling its technology stack to enterprises.
  • In other words, Sigfox gives away the hardware enablers but sells the software/network as a service. In some cases, the company deploys the network and acts as the network operator.
  • So far, key manufacturers like STMicroelectronicsAtmel, and Texas Instruments (TI) have partnered with Sigfox.
  • However, in LoRa’s case, it is an open do-it-yourself network, which earns from royalties earned with chipset (with SEMTECH as a core manufacturer). Although, since it is an open network, network operators are increasingly embracing the LoRa technology and operating as an IoT network provider

However, both the competing communication networks offer some advantages over each other.

  • For instance, Sigfox is not available everywhere, but you can create your own LoRA network anywhere. However, using LoRa adds an extra layer of complexity to manage your own IoT network.
  • LoRa offers bidirectional communication due to its symmetric link, while Sigfox also offers bidirectional communication, but it needs higher network density (due to the asymmetric link). This makes LoRa more suitable for command-and-control use cases (such as electric grids), while Sigfox restricts itself to applications with small and infrequent data bursts (such as alarms and meters)
  • However, both are facing challenges in the US market, due to local FCC regulations and a high-level of interference with other radio communications. This is because both technologies were initially designed for European spectrum (865MHz to 868 MHz band)

Other than above, both non-cellular communication protocols address the same market but different use-cases with some overlap.

Cellular LPWANs A Big Challenge for Non-Cellular LPWANs

Firstly, there is no LPWAN war. Traditionally, cellular LPWANs consumed too much power, and they’re more optimized for high bandwidths. Battery consumption is very critical in IoT applications, as sensors once fit into systems, need to work for 8+ years. Also, their modem and service is more expensive. This becomes a major advantage for non-cellular LPWANs offerings.

Both Sigfox and LoRa, had a great run (especially in Europe) before GSMA ratified new standards – LTE-M and NB-IoT. This is primarily because IoT adoption initially mushroomed in patches, with small deployments in small regions. However, as we moved forward, enterprises started looking for solutions that offer seamless connectivity, interoperability and a device ecosystem which is consistent throughout the globe. This has been a weak point for propriety technologies. Also, cellular technologies offered various other advantages over non-cellular:

  • Firstly, they have the support of a huge ecosystem of individual members, this will help NB-IoT ecosystem to evolve and reach scale at a much faster rate than propriety LPWANs
  • Secondly, standardization ensures interoperability across vendors, network operators and geographies
  • Thirdly, network scalability for capacity upgrade becomes hassle less for enterprise consumers
  • Lastly, with scale, MNOs will be in a much better position to create an IoT partner ecosystem of chipset, module, device, distribution channel, system integrators and platforms. They will become a key enabler of IoT platform services for device management, application enablement and data analytics

 LTE-M Vs NB-IoT Competing Within Cellular Space

Both LTE-M and NB-IoT were defined by the 3GPP in Release 13, for low bandwidth IoT applications. There are variety of similarities among the both technologies, however, the choice among the two largely depends on two factors – data consumption and latency.

  • LTE-M supports all LPWA use cases. It is more suitable for mission critical applications where real-time need communication is a priority, such as voice, emergency data (in healthcare) and precision tracking.
  • However, in case of NB-IoT, it is more suitable for simpler static sensor type applications.
  • This means that it may not be cost-effective to use LTE-M for simpler static applications where latency is acceptable and minimal communication is required.
  • Due to the reasons cited above, a higher volume of applications in agriculture, utilities, and smart city are expected to use NB-IoT over LTE-M, which converts to higher number of connections. This is the reason why more than 40 operators have already deployed NB-IoT network across different countries.
  • Also, the Chinese government has been very supportive of NB-IoT to foster the IoT ecosystem within China. In such a case, if a Chinese hardware firm becomes more oriented towards NB-IoT hardware, it is likely that NB-IoT will become a default connectivity option in LTE-M modules as well.
  • Recently, AT&T also announced NB-IoT network in the US, citing rising demand from enterprise customers.

The bottom-line is that the IoT market has enough opportunity for all forms of cellular and non-cellular LPWANs. A few years ago, cellular LPWANs lagged behind the non-cellular LPWANs, which created an opportunity for non-cellular propriety technologies such as Sigfox, LoRa, Weightless, Ingenu, etc., which originated from EU and spread to other parts of the world. However, in the recent past, cellular LPWANs have gained ground, with a push from network operators such as Vodafone and China Mobile and spearheaded by Huawei. So much so that some analysts have written-off non-cellular LPWANs. But the market is yet to fully realize the potential of different connectivity technologies. Non-cellular enjoys distinct advantages over cellular; they offer lower power, low bandwidth and low-cost solutions – which is right for a variety of IoT applications. Nevertheless, the scale of cellular LPWA deployments is expected to be much larger than non-cellular LPWANs. But each technology will create their own space within the market as enterprises move ahead in their learning curve.

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