Blog - Through the Kaleidoscope
Our latest blog post on expectations for increased IoT Roaming demand post COVID-19

WHAT WILL CELLULAR IOT ROAMING LOOK LIKE AS A RESULT OF COVID-19?

As part of its efforts to understand the impact of the novel coronavirus on the roaming industry, Kaleido Intelligence has now turned its attention to what the pandemic might mean for IoT.

Consumer Roaming may be down, but iot roaming looks set to rise 

Clearly, machines are not subject to the same social distancing practices demanded by a significant number of governments around the world. In fact, in a basic role as entities deployed to gather and report useful data, machines can relieve the pressure on human availability to be in potentially risky physical spaces. Meanwhile, when combined with analytics, reporting and automation, they can deliver a much-needed boost in terms of business continuity in a world where, because of obvious reasons, businesses have had to scale back, or are facing tremendous pressure due to spikes in demand.

Over the past few weeks, Kaleido has interviewed a number of IoT industry players to understand how businesses across a number of verticals are developing strategies to cope with the current situation, along with a view towards mitigating what appears to be inevitable recurrences of disruption linked to coronavirus, or similarly disastrous events.

The overwhelming consensus is this: Covid-19 has led to an acceleration in digitisation strategies, with IoT viewed as a key tool in achieving this. This may seem obvious, given the massive increase in WFH (work-from-home) environments alongside supply chain pressures and huge demand on healthcare systems. However, it is apparent that the destructive impact of Covid-19, both on citizens’ health as well as on the global economy means that these types of strategies will be here to stay: future risk is simply too great to avoid it

2025 CELLULAR IOT CONNECTIONS COULD JUMP 3X OVER PRE-COVID PROJECTIONS 

Based on this, Kaleido has developed new projections for the cellular IoT landscape. The business case for new IoT deployments is clear, with cellular a critical component due to its security, flexibility and remote management features. The only real question is: how significant will the impact of Covid-19 be?

This will indeed depend on any further travel impact in Q3 and Q4 2020 and also if there will be any further waves of Coronavirus this year.

By applying a scenario-based model to the numbers, Kaleido offers insight into this question: 2025 could see 11.4 billion cellular IoT connections, 3 times over what had originally been predicted before the pandemic.

While consumer mobile roaming might have suffered a significant setback, the opposite will be true for IoT roaming. The simple fact is that securing connectivity via a global, or programmable multi-IMSI SIM from an IoT specialist is often far simpler than procuring local SIMs, or going the eSIM/iSIM route (which don’t eliminate roaming entirely in any case).

With operators now undoubtedly looking towards IoT to recover some of their lost consumer mobile revenue, roaming agreements for LPWA networks will accelerate, thus covering customer needs across the spectrum of bytes and gigabytes per month.

Outside of a major market such as China, the proportion of cellular IoT devices that are roaming frequently exceeds 30% (in many cases far higher). Key dynamics and trends surrounding this landscape are discussed in our IoT Roaming Strategies & Forecasts report; these dynamics are unlikely to change significantly as Covid-19 drives new IoT deployments. This means that new opportunities abound as businesses seek means of recovery, mitigation and continuation.

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