Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

Cellular IoT module shipments up 22%, says Berg

Steve Rogerson
May 27, 2020



Shipments of cellular IoT modules increased 22 per cent in 2019 to reach a new record level of 265 million units, according to Berg Insight.
 
Annual revenues grew slower at seven per cent due to increased price pressure and a higher share of low-cost LPWA modules in the product mix.
 
The 3GPP specifications for low power wide area communications – LTE-M and NB-IoT – will contribute to growth in the next coming five years. While 5G coverage is improving rapidly across developed markets, 5G IoT modules will not be available commercially in significant volumes until the second half of 2020.
 
The first 5G-enabled products will be routers and gateways that are likely to reach the market before the end of the year. Passenger cars equipped with 5G IoT modules are planned for release in 2021. Additional target IoT applications for 5G are video surveillance and other multimedia applications that today rely on wired communications.
 
The results of the assessment show that the five largest module vendors have 71 per cent of the market in terms of revenues.
 
“Annual module revenues for the five largest players – Quectel, Sierra Wireless, Thales, Sunsea AIoT and Telit – increased by five per cent to $2.2bn, with the total market value reaching approximately $3.1bn,” said Fredrik Stalbrand, senior analyst at Berg Insight.
 
In 2019, Quectel became the number one cellular IoT module vendor for the first time, surpassing Sierra Wireless. Thales, which completed the acquisition of Gemalto in April 2019, was in third place, followed by Sunsea AIoT and Telit.
 
Cellular IoT module vendors will experience significant variability in sales across end markets in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Utilities comprise the largest end market in terms of volume, in which smart metering projects continue as planned but sometimes at a reduced installation pace. Similarly, factory closings by major automotive OEMs and weaker demand for passenger cars will have a considerable impact on cellular IoT module sales for automotive applications this year.
 
Despite challenges in the short term, Berg believes the current situation will accelerate the digitalisation trend in the coming years.
 
“Enterprises that have started their digital transformation journey are already at an advantage and today provide immense value for customers through remote management of processes, using connected devices to avoid unnecessary human contact,” said Stalbrand.