4G M2M cellular module shipments to reach 12.6 million in 2015

The 4G machine-to-machine (M2M) cellular modules include long term evolution (LTE) compatible models

According to ABI Research, only about 40,000 4G machine-to-machine (M2M) cellular modules are expected to ship in 2010. Only a few M2M applications do require lots of bandwidth and high throughput, and it is those applications, telematics fixed wireless terminals, and industrial personal desktop assistants (PDAs) that will benefit from 4G networks' capabilities.

The research firm said that there are also secondary applications such as digital signage and video surveillance networks that may benefit from WiMAX (mobile internet technology) and LTE to some extent. Sam Lucero, M2M practice director at ABI Research, said: "4G offers several benefits for M2M. The first, of course, is sheer bandwidth. 4G networks are also more spectrally efficient than 3G. Finally, there is the question of future-proofing: 4G networks are going to be around for quite a long time.

On the other hand, 4G modules cost more because of they contain more radio frequency (RF) chains and larger processors. Price is also based on demand, and many M2M applications do only require low data rates. As 4G network deployments start in urban areas and are gradually extended to rural regions, network coverage issues will also inhibit uptake for some time.

Mr Lucero, added: "Low data rate applications won't migrate to 4G in the next five years, though towards the end of the decade they may, as 3G networks start to wind down."