Juniper Research: Cellular IoT market expected to hit $61B by 2026

A new study from Juniper Research has found that the global value of the cellular IoT market will reach $61 billion by 2026; rising from $31 billion in 2022. It identified the growth of 5G and cellular LPWA (Low-power Wide Area) technologies as key to this 95% increase over the next four years.

The new study, Cellular IoT: Strategies, Opportunities & Market Forecasts 2022-2026, predicts that, LPWA solutions, such as NB-IoT and LTE-M, will be the fastest-growing cellular IoT technologies over the next four years. It anticipated that the low cost of both connectivity and hardware will drive adoption for remote monitoring in key verticals, such as agriculture, smart cities and manufacturing. In turn, LPWA connections are expected to grow 1,200% over the next four years.

The report urged operators to migrate IoT connections on legacy networks to networks that support LPWA technologies. It anticipated that demand from enterprises for low-cost monitoring technologies, enabled by LPWA networks, will increase as these legacy networks are shut off over the next four years.

Research co-author Charles Bowman commented: “Operators must educate users on the suitability of LPWA as a replacement technology for legacy networks. However, many IoT networks cannot solely rely on LPWA technologies. More comprehensive technologies, such as 5G, must underpin IoT network architectures and work in tandem with LPWA technologies to maximize the value of IoT services.”

5G to Generate $9 Billion for the IoT Market by 2026 (???):

The report predicted that 5G IoT services [1.] will generate $9 billion of revenue by 2026; rising from $800 million in 2021. This represents a growth of 1,000% over the next five years as 5G coverage expands and operators benefit from the increased number of 5G IoT connections. To capitalise on this growth, it recommended operators offer value-added services, such as network slicing and edge computing, to IoT users to maximise the value of 5G adoption.

Note 1.  We believe that premium 5G-based IoT services must use the ultra-reliable low-latency communication (URLLC) 5G use case for which the 3GPP spec URLLC in the RAN has yet to be completed.  Mission critical apps need ultra high reliability while real time control of IoT devices require ultra low latency. That won’t happen till the spec is complete, performance tested and implemented widely.  URLLC will also required a 5G SA core network to prioritize URLLC traffic ahead of eMBB data flows.

Premium 5G URLLC services are expected to command a higher price and therefore generate proportionally more revenue per connection.  However, they will likely still be in the early stages of deployment and uptake in 2026.


In contrast to Juniper’s bullish cellular IoT forecast, others have forecast non cellular LPWAs to be the big IoT connectivity winners.

  • Ericsson predicted in a November 2020 Mobility Report that by 2026, cellular will account for 5.9 billion of the expected 26.9 billion IoT connections.
  • Transforma Insights’ most recent forecast is for 19.9 billion IoT connections by 2026, with 3.2 billion of those being cellular connections.  That implies the majority of LPWAs will not be cellular based, e.g. LoRA WAN, Sigfox, others.

We agree with Nick Wood’s of who concluded, “Juniper’s forecast implies that 5G is not about to make a meaningful contribution to operators’ IoT revenues any time soon.”


Cellular IoT market expected to double by 2026