Global revenues from M2M services will more than double between 2012 and 2017, rising from just less than $15 billion to more than $31 billion, according to a new study from Infonetics Research.
The market-research company also expects the number of M2M connections to surpass four billion by 2017, up from around 1.4 billion in 2012.
However, Infonetics urges operators to think beyond cellular technology when envisaging their future M2M services.
“What’s often overlooked about M2M is that it will be delivered to the world by way of a portfolio of access technologies,” said Godfrey Chua, the director of Infonetics’ M2M and connected world program.
“Cellular networks represent the most meaningful revenue opportunity for operators, but by far the most popular way to connect to M2M services is via personal area network [PAN] wireless technologies, such as WiFi, Zigbee, Bluetooth and IP500, which do not generate connection revenue,” said Chua. “It’s critical that mobile operators incorporate a broader view of the various M2M access technologies into their M2M strategies.”
According to Infonetics, most M2M connections are currently based on PAN technologies, with cellular accounting for just less than 190 million connections.
However, the number of cellular connections is forecast to nearly triple by 2017, making cellular “the largest growth engine for operator revenue”.
The automotive, tracking and logistics sector made up about a third of M2M service revenue in 2012, driven by the take-up of vehicle tracking, navigation and delivery applications.
North America and Europe remain the key centers of M2M service growth, accounting for 72% of the total market, although China Mobile (Beijing, China) last year overtook AT&T (Dallas, TX, USA) to become the biggest M2M operator in terms of connections supported.
AT&T, however, remains the number-one player on the basis of service revenues, generating higher service revenue per connection than China Mobile.