IoT connections continue to rapidly rise
Written by: Richard Hook | Published:
The IoT is growing The IoT is growing (Credit:

The number of global cellular Internet of Things (IoT) connections grew by 22% to reach 2.1 billion over the past year according to new research,

Swedish IoT market research firm Berg Insight has predicted there will be 4.3 billion IoT devices connected to cellular networks worldwide by 2026. Analysts who compiled the report for Berg found IoT connections grew across all the major markets of China, Europe and North America during 2021 as the world recovered from the Covid-19 pandemic.


The top 10 mobile network operators (MNOs) reported a combined active base of 1.8 billion cellular IoT connections at the end of 2021, accounting for 86% of total connections.

China Mobile is the world’s largest provider of cellular IoT connectivity services with an estimated 801 million cellular IoT connections. Vodafone ranked first among European operators and fourth overall with 142 million connections, followed by leading American MNO AT&T with 95 million in fifth place.

China Unicom and China Telecom ranked second and third with 300 million and 297 million connections respectively while Deutsche Telekom, Verizon, Telefónica, KDDI and Orange made up the rest of the top 10. However, IoT connectivity services still account for just an average 1% of total revenues for most operator groups.

The report concluded: “The shift to embedded sims, or esims, is currently one of the strongest trends within the IoT connectivity market. Automotive OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) stand out as early adopters of the technology, which is experiencing broad uptake across a range of vertical markets.

“Leveraging the benefits of the two existing esims specifications – Mobile to Mobile and Consumer – GSMA’s new IoT specification is set to further accelerate uptake of the technology as it will eliminate the need for integrations between mobile operators and provide greater flexibility for IoT solution providers.”

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