Vodafone has claimed to be the first mobile provider to exceed 50 million Internet of Things (IoT) connections.

The UK-based operator said it was adding around one million new IoT connections a month, with “a particularly strong performance” in the automotive, healthcare and utilities sectors.

Vodafone’s Director of IoT, Ivo Rook, said: “Vodafone were one of the earliest believers in the potential for the Internet of Things to transform business and life.

“The 50 million milestone is a testament to our continued focus and commitment to innovation in this rapidly growing and dynamic sector.”

Although the operator’s focus has been on serving enterprise customers to date, Group CEO Vittorio Colao has committed Vodafone to launching a consumer IoT product in 2017.

In 2016, Vodafone topped Machina Research’s annual ranking of IoT telcos for the fifth consecutive year, ahead of AT&T, Verizon and Deutsche Telekom.

Meanwhile, Deutsche Telekom and China Unicom announced a strategic partnership that sees the two operators join up their respective M2M platforms.

Deutsche Telekom customers will be able to equip and manage devices with M2M connectivity in China and manage them with the same portal that they use for Europe.

China Unicom’s customers will be able to do the reverse.

The two companies cited GSMA research that predicts China will account for 39 percent of all global cellular M2M connections by 2020.

Claudia Nemat, Head of Deutsche Telekom’s Technology and Innovation division, said: “Our partnership with China Unicom accelerates business opportunities and paves the way for new services and applications for our globally operating customers.”

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