The latest Cisco VNI Complete Forecast update projects that for the first time in its 12-year history, there will be more M2M connections than end-user devices such as smartphones, laptops, TV sets, etc. By 2021, there will be 13.7 billion machine-to-machine (M2M) connections globally, accounting for 51% of the total IP connected devices and connections. This represents an average of 1.75 M2M connections per capita globally – demonstrating how pervasive M2M connections are going to become to our networked lives making Internet of Things (IoT) a reality.
Globally, the largest segment of M2M applications is going to be in the connected home (46% of the total M2M connections by 2021). This segment includes applications such as home automation and security, network equipment (printers, routers, etc.), white goods (connected refrigerators, HVAC control, etc.) as well as human and personal asset tracking. The fastest global growth, however, is going to come from the connected health segment, which includes health monitors, medicine dispensers, telemedicine, applications for assisted living, first responder activity and more. Connected health M2M connections will grow at a 30% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) from 2016 to 2021.
While connected cities are the second fastest growing M2M vertical globally (29% CAGR), it is fastest growing segment in regions such as North America (35% CAGR), Middle East and Africa (56% CAGR) and Latin America (50% CAGR). Connected cities includes M2M applications such as environment and public safety (CCTV, street lighting, waste removal, et al.), public space advertising, public transport and road traffic management.
There are multiple examples of connected city advancements around the globe – Amsterdam, Barcelona, Dubai, San Francisco, and Singapore just to name a few. In these cities, municipalities and local governments are investing in technology initiatives to improve residents’ quality of life and safety while using resources more efficiently via the innovative deployment of M2M solutions. This is not a simple or easy undertaking. To be successful, connected city deployments require an entire ecosystem to plan, execute, and maintain a sustainable digital strategy. Approaches vary from city to city, but a common element are strong partnerships among solution or app providers, cloud/ data center providers, network operators, IT vendors, municipalities and local public administrators (as a baseline minimum). This collaboration must also be backed up with information, awareness, and training to help residents adapt to the digital transformation and understand its intended benefits.
While M2M will account for 51% of the total devices and connections by 2021, they will account for 5% of the total IP traffic. Connected work, with applications such as office building automation and security, office equipment and commercial appliances, will be generating the largest amount of M2M traffic over the next five years. The fastest growing segment is going to be connected cars, which is also going to be the segment with the highest ratio of video capable connections.
The world’s growing affinity and acceptance of digitization makes networks even more relevant and puts network intelligence and security at the very crux of any successful IoT implementation (large or small).
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Shruti Jain @shjain is a senior analyst on Cisco’s SP thought leadership team that is responsible for developing and maintaining several global research and market intelligence initiatives. She has been one of the key contributors to Cisco Visual Networking Index (VNI)—the company's ongoing effort to forecast and analyze the growth and use of the Internet and IP networks worldwide.