The GSMA, an organization that represents more than 800 mobile network operators, is excited about the Internet of things.
The GSMA has spent years overseeing mobile phone standards, but now expects major growth in the technology for hooking other devices such as environmental sensors, cars, door locks, and power meters to the network, an idea called the Internet of things or machine-to-machine (M2M) communications.
In a report announced Monday (PDF) ahead of its Mobile World Congress show, the GSMA said it predicts growth from 195 million M2M connections in 2013 to 250 million this year. Seeing new markets besides the increasingly saturated mobile phone subscriptions, 428 carriers so far offer services in the market, the study said.
"It is clear that the M2M market has moved from a period of development towards a commercial deployment phase," said Jurgen Hase, vice president of Deutsche Telekom's M2M Competence Center, in a statement.
Following the trend, Internet-of-things work like connected-car technology and smart-city infrastructure are a growing theme Mobile World Congress.
The study considered devices that connect to the network using the SIM cards that identify mobile phones, but not traditional computing devices that use SIM cards like wireless dongles, e-book readers, or portable routers. The Internet of things is, however, a larger concept that also encompasses devices that will attach using other network technology such as Wi-Fi, ZigBee, and Bluetooth.
Sweden has embraced M2M technology most aggressively, largely because of a regulatory requirement to use wirelessly connected home power meters. Of its SIM-based connections, 23.1 percent are for M2M links, the report found.
Asia, however, is growing fast, accounting for 56 million new connections among the growth from 75 million to 195 million from 2010 to 2013.