Blending the physical and digital realms: IoT infrastructure market in Asia


Driving the digitalisation of almost all business verticals as on today, the global IoT infrastructure market is slated to be one of the cornerstones of the fourth industrial revolution.

Global Market Insights states that businesses would be required to employ advanced solutions to steadfastly manage more than 7.3 billion IoT-connected endpoints by 2020 – statistics that depict the excellent future prospects of the IoT infrastructure industry.

By integrating the digital and physical world, IoT solutions have unleashed a huge potential for innovation even though the term ‘IoT’ might only be 16 years old.

A report by Samsung on the Open economy states that more than half of all business processes and systems are likely to integrate data from connected systems built around IoT-enabled devices by 2020.

Role of IoT infrastructure in Asia

Taking into account the immense strength of demographic expanse, buoyant economic growth trends over the last decade, along with an influential cultural identity, it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to affirm that the 21st century belongs to Asia.

Countries such as China, Singapore, and South Korea are at the forefront in leveraging the potential of automation and connected devices to deliver better products and services, reduce waste, and enhance productivity.

Numerous western multinational corporations have migrated their production units to Asian nations since this region has emerged as a prominent manufacturing hub of the world.

Unsurprisingly, the humongous potential of IoT has urged various Asian governments to examine their national long-term IT strategies to make sure they do not fall behind the IoT bandwagon.

The smaller Asian economies are starting out small at first but are poised to expand commendably in the upcoming times.

On the other hand, the large countries such as China and India are in the process to build an entirely new framework – programmes that would encompass all the facets of various business verticals – for the development of the IoT infrastructure market.


Digital India, the much-talked about programme of the Indian government, aims to make the country digitally-empowered in the field of technology by creating a secure and stable digital infrastructure, which would ensure that universal digital literacy is achieved and government services are delivered faster than ever.

Furthermore, the programme runs as a common theme across various other initiatives that are directed toward the growth of industrial and manufacturing sectors.

One of the most significant factors that has been stressed upon in the Digital India programme is the need to harness the power of the Internet of Things. In this regard, it would be prudent to mention that India’s Department of Electronics and Information Technology has recently issued the nation’s first ever IoT policy document which is slated to act as a fundamental guide to implement and execute strategic programs pertaining to the Internet of Things.

Key highlights of the Indian IoT policy draft:

The objective is to build incubation centers, named National Center of Excellence, in association with NASSCOM and other organizations. A INR 100 crore fund has been allocated to these centers where latest instruments and gadgets will be provided for researchers to come up with ideas pertaining to IoT implementation.

The government envisions to create a market dedicated to IoT which would be worth $15 billion by the year 2020.

Proposal to create International IoT Research Collaboration scheme; which will collaborate and form joint ventures with foreign IoT providers to develop Indian cities.

Streamlining the ecosystem of internet-connected devices in India as the number of such devices is anticipated to increase from the current 200 million to 2.7 billion by 2020.

Considering the scope of implementation and the positive outcomes expected from all the provisions that have been noted in the draft policy, the IoT infrastructure industry is set to witness a drastic uptick in its fortunes in India over the years to come.


China Unicome, China Mobile, and China Telecom – the three major telecom service operators of China reported that the number of their IoT users increased by 400 million in 2018. As of now, the total number of IoT users in China stands at more than 671 million, which is astounding to say the least.

According to a report from China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, the IoT infrastructure industry has been on the roll across the nation, with revenue rising by about 73 percent in 2018 from a year earlier. One of the major factors that has expanded the IoT infrastructure market in China is the entry of tech giants such as Alibaba and Huawei in this space.

China’s OBOR project and infrastructural ambitions to fuel the growth of IoT infrastructure industry

Since 2012, China has made infrastructure commitments worth $15 billion across central and eastern Europe with an intent to unify economically with underdeveloped nations in these regions.

Additionally, China plans to fundamentally alter the face of global trade by executing its gargantuan One Belt and One Road initiative. All these programmes require massive investment in IoT solutions and the Asian giant has been found proactive in incorporating IoT across such initiatives. This investment in IoT management platforms is crucial to China’s ability to manage and deliver infrastructure on a global scale, which would in turn, benefit the IoT infrastructure market.

South Korea

After achieving the fastest internet speeds in the world, South Korea recently launched the nation’s first commercial IoT network, which would cover 90 percent of the Korean region. Named LoRaWAN, the IoT network is regarded as one of the first of its kind in the world. Combined with its existing long-term evolution (LTE) standards, the new network is expected to connect about 99% of the Korean population to the internet. Apart from launching the commercial IoT network, South Korea had also announced that it plans to roll out 20 LoRa-based IoT services, including a real-time shared parking service and a manhole monitoring service.

In light of these significant developments across Asian nations, it can only be stated that the faith in IoT infrastructure industry is being reposed by various Asian governments to garner the socio-economic benefits of integrating IoT in the lives of people from all walks of life. From monitoring environment and fire protection to manhole covers, gas meters, street lighting, governments hope IoT would enhance the quality of life. In the future, everything would be connected in scenarios – more diverse than simply connected people.

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Nicholas Nhede is an experienced energy sector writer based in Clarion Event's Cape Town office. He has been writing for Smart Energy International’s print and online media platforms since 2015, on topics including metering, smart grids, renewable energy, the Internet of Things, distributed energy resources and smart cities. Originally from Zimbabwe, Nicholas holds a diploma in Journalism and Communication Studies. Nicholas has a passion for how technology can be used to accelerate the energy transition and combat climate change.