Global IoT Roaming Data Traffic to Reach 650pb in 2026

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Kaleido Intelligence’s Roaming Data Hub – H2 2021 predicts a 30% average annual growth in cellular IoT roaming traffic between 2020 and 2026, despite production and supply chain constraints meaning that components are in short supply across a variety of segments.

Leading Connectivity Management Platform (CMP) providers have all reported significant increases in connections under management over the past year, even as some automotive OEMs have scaled back vehicle production during 2021.

While cellular IoT module shipments saw a relatively tepid 2020, this year has seen strong demand for modules, with several vendors reporting demand in smart metering, industrial and healthcare applications.

Although Kaleido expects that this growth will likely be constrained over the next 3 years due to the ongoing chipset crisis, overall cellular IoT roaming connections will reach over 850 million in 2025. This growth will exceed the overall cellular IoT market and result in IoT roaming traffic reaching nearly 650 Petabytes in 2026, up from 174 Petabytes in 2021.

Much of the overall growth in cellular IoT roaming will emerge from LPWAN connectivity, with NB-IoT having seen a significant boost during 2021 following positive announcements by Vodafone and BICS in the context of roaming footprints. By 2026, over 80% of the installed base of permanently roaming IoT connections are forecast to be accounted for by devices consuming less than 10MB per month, with LPWAN technologies such as NB-IoT and LTE-M providing critical support for these types of applications.

“Even as demand for OTA programmable SIMs grows to support deployment flexibility, roaming remains a critical tool to support global IoT connectivity. The major challenge for the industry moving ahead will be monetisation. Service providers must adapt to support non-traffic-based billing in a manner that proves a win-win for wholesale suppliers and retail customers,” says Steffen Sorrell, Research Lead at Kaleido Intelligence.

Based on the latest data from roaming vendors, operator contributors and consumer insights gathered via a global survey conducted in Q3 2021, Kaleido forecasts over 3,500 Petabytes of data roaming traffic to be generated by consumer mobile devices in 2026. Despite a decline in roaming data traffic in 2020 and 2021, compared to pre-COVID level in 2019, cheaper roaming bundles, increasing data usage and RLAH introduction to new travel zones will drive traffic to exceed pre-COVID levels as early as 2023, representing a 56% increase over 2019 levels.