Global cellular IoT connections to grow by three billion in next four years –

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A study by telecoms specialist Juniper Research has found the global number of cellular internet of things (IoT) devices will increase from 3.4 billion in 2024 to 6.5 billion by 2028.

Yet despite the surge in connections, set to be as much as 90% in the timeframe, the analyst warned that managing this growth and cashing in on it would require the deployment of new services to enable the efficient automation of IoT device management and security, with federated learning in particular enabling operators to minimise security risks.

The report, Global cellular IoT market 2024-2028, also identified intelligent infrastructure management solutions – which enable IoT users to automate the configuration of devices, security processes and connectivity in real time – as key to handling the large increase in cellular data. The research firm anticipates that global cellular IoT data generated will grow to 46PB (petabytes) in 2028, up from 21PB projected for the end of 2024. This is likely to lead to further investment in IoT automation services.

The analyst noted that, at present, the majority of machine learning models are trained via data sources stored in a single location, making opportunities for fraudulent players a simpler task. In response, the study recommends that operators transition to federated learning models, a subset of machine learning that leverages a decentralised data approach to minimise the chances of data fraud over IoT networks.

Juniper believes federated machine learning limits the exposure of sensitive IoT data, thus reducing the threat of data breaches. “As the number of cellular IoT connections grows, it is imperative that both platforms and operators ensure data is secure in transition and on device,” remarked research author Alex Webb. “A failure to do so will dissuade IoT users in industries with sensitive data from using a cellular IoT-based approach to connectivity.”

“As the number of cellular IoT connections grows, it is imperative that both platforms and operators ensure data is secure in transition and on device”
Alex Webb, Juniper Networks

Similar research from international communications enabler BICS revealed a 156% year-on-year spike in the number of non-standalone 5G roamers for consumer and IoT devices across its network. BICS found that even though IoT is still in its adolescence, the increase in machine roamers using a 5G connection is an encouraging sign the industry is at long last picking up pace.

A further study it cited, from Kaleido Intelligence, estimated non-standalone 5G roamers will exceed 100 million in 2024, and that overall consumer and IoT roaming data usage will rise by 36% to a total of 5,000PB. The BICS data also showed a much starker 277% rise in the number of IoT devices roaming on 5G connections. Even the variety of types of 5G devices is growing – up by 47% year on year in 2023. 

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