According to a new research report from the IoT analyst firm Berg Insight, the number of devices managed on commercial IoT connectivity management platforms (CMPs) will grow at a CAGR of 32.6 percent from 770 million in 2018 to reach 3.15 billion by 2023. This accounted for about 63 percent of the total installed base of cellular IoT devices in 2018. Mobile operators use connectivity management platforms to facilitate the delivery of IoT connectivity services and offer self-service connectivity management solutions to enterprise customers. The adoption of third-party platforms has increased notably in recent years, although many mobile operators still use bespoke or in-house developed solutions to serve all or parts of their IoT operations. A number of leading mobile operators such as Vodafone, Deutsche Telekom, Verizon and Telefónica continue to invest in the development of their proprietary platforms to differentiate from the competition. IoT managed service providers comprise a third category of players that typically provide complete IoT connectivity management platforms next to connectivity and sometimes also other value-added services targeted at specific segments. A key differentiator for IoT managed service providers is the ability to aggregate multiple networks on their platforms and thus provide superior area coverage, multi-domestic footprints and multi-technology connectivity.
Huawei is the leading IoT CMP vendor with close ties to the domestic mobile operators China Mobile and China Telecom and managed more than 600 million IoT SIMs in mid-2019. Whale Cloud, formerly known as ZTEsoft and partly owned by Alibaba Group since 2018, is the runner up on the Chinese market and managed 106 million IoT SIMs. Cisco is the largest commercial IoT CMP vendor outside of China with 130 million connections, followed by Vodafone and Ericsson. Vodafone is the only mobile network operator that licenses its platform to third-party service providers. “IoT managed service providers play a key role in the ecosystem in western markets, where they account for around 10–15 percent of IoT subscribers”, said Fredrik Stalbrand, Senior Analyst, Berg Insight. Aeris and KORE have consolidated their positions as leading players in North America, with 14 million and 11 million connections respectively. In Europe, Wireless Logic has close to 4 million IoT subscribers and is systematically expanding its regional presence through a combination of strategic acquisitions and organic growth. Cubic Telecom, Sierra Wireless, Arm, BICS and Transatel all have around 2–3 million IoT subscribers each. IoT managed service providers like EMnify and Eseye are at the forefront of integrating global cellular IoT connectivity with cloud platforms, enabling customers to seamlessly incorporate IoT connectivity management controls in their IoT solutions built on public cloud infrastructure. The variety of players in the IoT CMP market reflects the growing diversity of IoT connectivity offerings available. “Enterprises will need to reevaluate their connectivity needs and make more refined decisions about service delivery, carrier switching capabilities, coverage, security and pricing as their IoT projects evolve to the next level”, concluded Mr. Stalbrand.