Wide-area Internet of Things (IoT) connectivity vendors are fighting for space in an increasingly crowded market. According to global intelligence firm ABI Research, Low-Power Wide Area Networks (LPWAN) will reach 5.3 billion connections in 2030. LPWAN companies are competing in integral IoT applications such as smart metering, asset tracking, and condition-based monitoring, with a vendor’s competitive advantage often hinging on factors beyond a network’s technical capabilities.
“The business environment surrounding a networking technology can be as influential to its success as its data rate, bandwidth, and power requirements,” says Lizzie Stokes, IoT Hardware and Devices and IoT Networks and Services Analyst at ABI Research. “As new connectivity technologies enter the market and others pivot or leave entirely, it is important to understand how various market dynamics – such as regional availability and stages of development - impact a technology’s successes and failures.”
When competing against newer technologies and other wide-area networks, cellular LPWANs struggle with fractured regional deployments and higher device and connectivity costs than other LPWA technologies. But regardless of technology, LPWA solutions are increasingly confronted with complexity concerns as IoT users demand user-friendly, end-to-end IoT systems. To maintain market share, vendors must dynamically respond to these obstacles while navigating new, potentially disruptive standards and protocols such as DECT-2020 NR, MIOTY, and ZETA.
Short-Range Wireless (SRW) technologies face a different competitive landscape than LPWANs in the IoT domain. Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are primarily used in home automation use cases but are also finding greater use in commercial IoT applications. Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) and Wi-Fi HaLow expand the technologies’ place in industrial and wide-area IoT deployments. Hybrid use cases, where customers deploy SRW and LPWA technologies simultaneously to optimize an IoT deployment, have further increased Bluetooth's and Wi-Fi's presence in long-range applications. Though the wireless IoT networking market has a history of intense competition, trends in hybrid use cases suggest some IoT vendors are leaning toward collaboration. The IoT connectivity landscape is broad, but some important players offering low-power connectivity technologies and driving innovation include the LoRa Alliance, Sierra Wireless, Texas Instruments, Nordic Semiconductor, and UnaBiz.
“Competition in the wireless connectivity market continues to be fierce,” Stokes concludes. “Vendors should attempt to carve out a unique place in the market by thoroughly understanding their client’s coverage and power requirements. Vendors should cater to specific use cases and regional needs while acknowledging that customers will respond to technologies that can work well with others.”
These findings are from ABI Research’s Connecting the IoT: Wide-Area and Short-Range Wireless Technologies Market Analysis application analysis report. This report is part of the company’s IoT Hardware and Devices and IoT Networks and Services research services, which include research, data, and analyst insights. Based on extensive primary interviews, Application Analysis reports present an in-depth analysis of key market trends and factors for a specific technology.
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