Wireless telemetry or Machine-to-Machine technology was adopted early by businesses that could see the value in data and it quickly became commonplace to deploy these systems in applications such as metering. From simple beginnings M2M has sophisticated to a point where it is almost synonymous with the Internet of Things, an association which is likely to strengthen further. IoT is becoming an increasingly prominent technology that has the potential, and is already making steps towards, radically altering our world like almost no other wireless technology that is currently undergoing commercial development.

Machine-to-machine communication can generally be categorised into one of two use-cases;

  1. Infrequent communications of small transmission size. Examples might include; household electrical meters reporting monthly usage, parking lot sensors indicating occupied status.
  2. Sustained communications of intermediate transmission size, for example, vehicles reporting live speed and traffic metrics.

Most competing IoT protocols meet one of the two needs, and most operators choose to deploy one of each network type. The most prominent IoT technology is Narrowband IoT (NB-IoT), a technology designed for infrequent, small transmissions, and deployed over a mobile operator's existing cellular network. Operators who implement NB-IoT usually meet the requirement for larger transmissions by also upgrading their existing cellular network to support LTE-M device categories, or may choose to implement a dedicated LTE Cat-M1 (eMTC) carrier.

Many European and Central Asian operators have elected to build a national LoRa network as opposed to deploying NB-IoT. This can be due to limited low-band spectrum availability, technical hurdles, or simply that LoRa had already attained a larger ecosystem of users and devices in their geographic region.

Deployed IoT Networks

The following chart shows the distribution of active Internet of Things networks by wireless network technology. Our database is a work in progress, data may be incomplete.

eMTC (LTE Cat-M1)

eMTC is a type of LTE-M network published by 3GPP in the Release 13 specification.

NB-IoT (LTE Cat-NB1)

Narrowband IoT (NB-IoT) is a 3GPP Release 13 feature that reuses various principles and building blocks of the LTE physical layer and higher protocol layers and defines a new Cat-NB1 UE. The standard leverages a mobile operator's existing LTE base


Extended coverage GSM IoT (EC-GSM-IoT) is a standard-based Low Power Wide Area technology. It is based on eGPRS and designed as a high capacity, long range, low energy and low complexity cellular system for IoT communications.


LoRa® is a proprietary physical layer wireless protocol developed by US semiconductor corporation Semtech, designed to facilitate low power, low data rate communications in the unlicensed ISM bands between 137 and 1020 MHz. 

Sigfox UNB

Unlike 3GPP IoT technologies and proprietary protocols, Sigfox is an end-to-end network technology, licensed to a local operator who deploys Sigfox radio access infrastructure on an unlicensed ISM frequency in the host country.


ZigBee is a specification developed by the ZigBee Alliance based on the IEEE 802.15.4 standard for wireless personal area networks (WPANs).