Mobile firms are at the beginning of their world-wide expansion.
China has stormed ahead of Europe and North America as the world’s leader in the Internet of Things (IoT) market.
The Asia region’s share of the IoT market increased to 40% at the end of 2013, followed by Europe with 29%, while North America held 19%, Latin America 7% and Africa 4%.
Driven by close partnerships between leading mobile operators China Mobile, China Unicom and China Telecom, the Chinese government and state-owned enterprises, Asia added 55 million M2M net connections between 2010 and 2013, of which China accounted for 39 million connections.
China came ahead of Europe with 29 million connections and North America with 15 million connections.
Alex Sinclair, CTO of mobile trade association GSMA, which produced the report, said: "Proactive government support has benefited China and its mobile operators, whereas in many global markets, regulatory uncertainty has held back the deployment of M2M solutions.
"The addressable market and the opportunity for further growth is immense, especially when one considers the sheer number of ‘things’ such as cars or domestic appliances that could potentially be connected by mobile."
The research also found that the energy sector was the first industry in China to embrace M2M technology on a large scale.
Alex Chau, principal analyst at Machina Research, says that 180 million smart meters have been installed in China and a further 60 million are being deployed.
Although most of the existing smart meters are connected using fixed lines, Chau expects mobile networks to play a key role as smart energy grids expand beyond the major cities.
The research also found that the fastest growing region was Asia with a 54% CAGR between 2010 and 2013, followed by Latin America with 43% and Africa with 42%.