As of December 2022, the number of connections for cellular Internet of Things (IoT) services hit 1.8 billion in China, accounting for 70 percent of the world's total, according to the country's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT).
MIIT's figures, which are based on data from three major telecommunication companies in China, show that the total number of terminal connections for mobile network have reached 3.528 billion, among which 1.845 billion are cellular IoT end users.
China's cellular IoT end users, for the first time, have surpassed that of mobile phone users by 161 million, accounting for 52.3 percent of the total, MIIT said.
Cellular IoT connects a wide variety of machines and devices, allowing them to communicate with each other by piggybacking on the cellular networks often used. Simply put, it facilitates massive data streams among sensors, actuators, etc., without building additional physical infrastructure.
While the IoT services are heavily applied across a myriad of industries, such as manufacturing, logistics, agriculture and transportation, cellular IoT modules fulfill a critical role as part of IoT systems or products in serving as the gateway for data transfer through 5G, 4G and LTE, or 'Long Term Evolution.'
In area without service coverage, narrowband IoTs (NB-IoTs) are deployed to achieve connectivity, such as soil sensors for smart agriculture.
With the expansion of 5G coverage, China is set to expand its IoT industry that covers chips, modules, terminals, software, platform and service. Meanwhile, its NB-IoT has been applied for smart metering, sensing, tracking and smart agriculture.