ABI Research: 4G is still the go-to for IoT connectivity

A study conducted by ABI Research finds that 4G is still the go-to solution for IoT connectivity.

The new year hasn’t brought with it a new dominant IoT connectivity standard. ABI Research monitored the activities of 1,037 IoT models across 52 module vendors and found competing standards have some way to go to catch up to 4G.

4G accounts for over 60 percent of cellular modules—spanning both high bandwidth CAT12 to CAT20, and high bandwidth CAT1 to CAT4. 5G represents just 4.34 percent.

Harriet Sumnall, IoT Hardware and Devices Research Analyst at ABI Research, said:

“Though 5G is not a novelty, there are only 45 catalogued 5G IoT module models available.This is not surprising, due to 5G not being applicable to many IoT applications outside of the automotive space and for fixed wireless terminals, due to the original release of 5G baseband modems being aimed at the consumer mobile broadband market.”

While global 2G and 3G networks are beginning to be shuttered, 4G is unlikely to be under threat for quite some time. 4G remains widely available while 5G is still in its relatively early stages.

A further 20 percent of catalogued modules feature Low Power Wide Area (LPWA) technologies. NB-IoT and LTE-M are the leading solutions in the LPWA arena.

“Module vendors will be releasing more of both 5G and LPWA module models as these technologies find their feet within the IoT space,” Sumnall adds.

“It must be noted, however, that any sluggishness in the uptake of any technology is not due to the lack of availability of module hardware.”

4G is expected to remain the connectivity technology of choice for mid- to long-term futureproofing of IoT devices. LPWA, meanwhile, is set to become the preferred solution in the years to come for applications such as smart street lighting.

Most sales activity for LPWA modules to date has occurred in China.