The global low-power wide area networks (LPWAN) market is forecast to grow at a CAGR of more than 50% by 2021, according to market research firm Technavio.

The increased adoption of LPWAN solutions in various industries worldwide is likely to improve the overall market revenue in the next few years. LPWAN connectivity suits applications that employ broadly scattered devices to send and receive occasional status updates. Such applications include logistics tracking, environmental sensors, energy meters and animal and crop monitoring. It is also used to remotely activate devices (lights, sprinklers and air conditioning).

Technavio LPWAN market (cr) Figure 1: Global low-power wide area networks market key drivers and figures (Source: Technavio)

Technavio ICT analysts highlight the following three factors that are contributing to the growth of the global LPWAN market:

LPWAN offers low cost, power consumption

LPWAN technologies work on M2M networking environments. LPWAN enables a wide range of M2M and IoT applications, which have constrained budgets and power limitations. The use of LPWAN technology reduces power requirements, provides longer range and lowers operational cost compared with a mobile network (2G, 3G and 4G LTE). LPWAN data transfer rates are very low as well as has lower power consumption in case of connected devices.

"LPWAN provides connectivity for networks of devices. The connectivity requires less bandwidth than what the usual home equipment offers. These networks can also have number of devices in a large coverage area than consumer mobile technologies. LPWAN also has a better bi-directionality," Abhishek Sharma, a lead M2M and connected devices analyst at Technavio.

Mobile computing penetration grows

There is an increase in the use of computing devices for multiple purposes such as accessing social networking apps, reading news, surfing the web and checking e-mails. IoT is another reason for the growth of the market, as most of the IoT devices are controlled by apps installed on mobile computing devices. In 2016, the unit shipment of mobile computing devices reached 2.12 billion units. It is expected to grow at a CAGR of 5.03% during the forecast period.

“With the increase in the smartphone penetration, the prevalence of apps is also rising. The number of health apps on the two leading platforms, iOS and Android, has more than doubled in less than three years. In 2015, the smartphone penetration was 44% of the population; older age groups being the highest users,” noted Abhishek.

Consumers adopt connected devices, services

The IoT connects billions of devices and sensors to develop innovative applications. The IoT communication primarily connects various devices, such as smartphones, laptops and tablets, with people and systems. This connection also helps send data to the centralised server through networks such as WLAN, RFID and Bluetooth.

Numerous low-cost and energy-efficient wireless sensor nodes are being used in the IoT systems. These nodes are easy to deploy and can be controlled and monitored from remote locations. Sensors include low power radio and power management mechanisms for continuous network operation and energy conservation.