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Covid-19 impact on CSP IoT growth was small and short-lived

MAR 01, 2021 | Matt Hatton
region: ALL sector: ALL Internet of ThingsHyperconnectivity

Back in July I wrote a blog post about the impact that Covid might have had on cellular IoT connections. Now that the full picture is available about the whole of 2020 I thought it was worth revisiting.

In the chart below I’ve taken the quarterly connections figures for a selection of the mobile operators that we track and looked at how their installed base of IoT SIM cards has been affected over the last 5 quarters. The average impact, as shown on the right hand end showed a notable blip in Q2 2020, falling from an average growth of 3.7% to 2.6%. However, after a bad quarter, growth on average more than rebounded to 5% in Q3 2020. By Q4 2020 growth was back to around 4%, much like in the last two quarters of 2019.


This average belies a huge amount of variation. Quite a number of operators did indeed see a pronounced drop in Q2 2020, particularly amongst larger operators. AT&T, NTT Docomo, Orange France, Telefonica UK, Telefonica Brazil and Turkcell in Turkey all saw pronounced declines. The reasons for that were explored in the prior blog post. That wasn’t the case for all operators, though. In fact, for some, including A1 in Belarus and Telefonica in Germany, Q2 2020 saw the highest growth across the period. There are always outliers.

The most notable fact from revisiting these numbers six months later is that there seems to have been almost no long-term impact of Covid on average connection growth over 2020 as a whole. In a few cases we might point to poorer performance at the end of the year compared to the beginning, but there is certainly no pronounced trend in that direction.

Many of the supply chain issues that caused short term challenges during Q2 were resolved relatively quickly, and there was additional demand created by Covid, either directly for solutions aimed at tackling social distancing or drug delivery, or indirectly through increasing demand for more efficient supply chains or increased automation. Members of the Transforma Insights User Group can learn more about those trends in the report ‘2020 Review of Top Digital Transformation Use Cases and Technologies’ (January 2021) and during the first User Group Knowledge Forum in March we will be digging into the impact of Covid and the likely roadmap for recovery. Contact us if you would like to know more.

Transforma Insights systematically collects quarterly IoT connections data from all available operators and other secondary sources to feed a top-down calibration of our highly granular bottom-up IoT Connected Things Forecasts. We will also use it to update our tracker of CSP IoT stats as illustrated in the report ‘Top 33 operator groups account for 1.27 billion cellular IoT connections with Chinese operators dominant’ (September 2020). If you are interested in the strategies of CSPs in IoT out tent pole report on the subject was published back in September 2020, the ‘Communications Service Provider (CSP) IoT Peer Benchmarking 2020’, which is available to all Corporate clients. Details on how to subscribe are here.




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