China and the US are the two largest markets for cellular machine-to-machine (M2M) products, and are likely to maintain their lead through to at least 2020, according to the GSM Association (GSMA).

The cellular industry body estimates that by this time, there will be at least one billion M2M connections worldwide. Cellular M2M will account for 974 million of these connections, constituting at least 10% of the global mobile market.

China and the US will together account for nearly half of the global cellular M2M market by 2020, the GSMA said.

The GSMA attributed China's status as the world's largest cellular M2M market to significant investment from the government, and said this underscores the importance of regulatory initiatives in stimulating M2M growth.

The body believes that the introduction of additional government policies aimed at encouraging wider deployment of cellular M2M in key sectors could be a key growth stimulator to the market.

The US market is by comparison being driven by strong growth in the automotive, smart homes and utilities sectors.

In Asia-Pacific, cellular M2M connections make up 2.4% of total mobile connections today, and are on track to grow to account for 8.8% of connections by 2020.

"Mobile networks are the platform upon which the M2M industry is being built and mobile operators are at the forefront in shaping the new business models that are driving this exciting market forward," GSMA chief strategy officer Hyunmi Yang said.

"To fully unlock the M2M market opportunity for both consumers and businesses, we need industry-wide collaboration to address the current fragmented marketplace and to drive economies of scale and global interoperability, which will benefit all players in the emerging M2M ecosystem."