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Industry News

Wireless Technologies – Viewpoints from Two Markets and Two Continents

November 14, 2005
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Wireless Technologies – Viewpoints from Two Markets and Two Continents

Microwave Journal and Telecommunications
Norwood, MA

(Please click here to view this article in pdf format)


The editors of Microwave Journal and the Americas and International issues of Telecommunications interviewed key figures in their markets concerning the interaction between suppliers and users of equipment for wireless communications. Their comments are presented below. Because of space limitations, some answers have been edited.

Jerry D. Neal
Executive VP and Co-Founder
RF Micro Devices


MWJ: As a supplier to the wireless systems market, what information would you like to see from the systems providers?

JN: Working closely with our customers and sharing information is key to RFMD’s success. Through close collaboration with handset manufacturers, we gain valuable insight into their plans for future handset designs, which enables us to anticipate the features that will differentiate future products. This helps to determine form factors and the types of additional functionality such as Bluetooth® technology, GPS, WLAN and multimedia capability that will be included in handsets and allows us to develop the RF solutions our customers will need.

MWJ: How have evolving requirements of the communications sector affected your product mix/plans?

JN: Cell phones are evolving into wireless handheld computing devices that incorporate a variety of complex components. Handset manufacturers are looking to their key RF suppliers to solve this complexity and provide more complete systems solutions to accelerate handsets to market. Once suppliers of PA MMICs, today we supply highly integrated PA modules that incorporate advanced functionality such as power control, switch technology and other passive components. As they incorporate more features such as cameras, web browsing, FM tuners and streaming video, a big challenge is extending battery life. We now include DC-to-DC converters for power management in our modules to extend battery life. As RFMD evolves into a provider of systems solutions, we are increasing the number of systems and signal processing engineers on our staff.

MWJ: What new technologies do you foresee impacting your product lines?

JN: We continue to optimize our proven GaAs HBT process and we are adopting new technologies, including lithium tantalite, pHEMT, indium gallium phosphide and custom silicon processes. We’re using lithium tantalite to build SAW filters, which handset manufacturers previously purchased from other suppliers. We are incorporating these filters into our modules, which provides our customers with a more complete solution, reducing their design time and streamlining their supply chains. We are also incorporating switches into our products and are developing new pHEMT process technology. We’re also working with silicon for our transceiver products, Bluetooth® solutions and even our PA products. More specifically, we’re working with CMOS and silicon germanium, since as we move further into the digital arena and signal processing, the need for silicon technologies will increase.

MWJ: Is there a significant difference between domestic and overseas markets?

JN: Fundamentally, the domestic and overseas markets share some similarities. No matter the market or the geographic location, semiconductor manufacturers must be agile and have the ability to adapt and anticipate the needs of all handset markets. As a global supplier, we have established offices and operations all over the world to support our customers. Today, over 80 percent of RFMD’s business comes from overseas. As the cell phone market continues to evolve, one of the biggest near-term growth drivers is providing components for low cost handsets designed for the emerging low tier markets for developing nations, such as China, India, Bangladesh, Indonesia and the Philippines.

MWJ: How much of your communications products and solutions have dual usage for military and commercial applications?

JN: RFMD is primarily focused on high volume, commercial products. Very few of our products are suitable for military use. Some of our technologies, however, are applicable to military applications. For instance, while the military has used GPS technology for years, we believe there may be a need for low cost GPS military applications in the future. Also our work in gallium nitride (GaN) technology may have the most immediate application because it has potential broad uses in radar and other imaging technology.

Charles A. McCauley
Vice President and General Manager
Renaissance Electronics Corp.


MWJ: As a supplier to the wireless systems market, what information would you like to see from the systems providers?

CM: We would encourage the systems providers to share sufficient information to allow us to understand both the technical objective as well as the market conditions, in order to provide an economical solution in a timely manner. This sharing of information needs to be reciprocal. We as a supplier must be willing to share our capabilities and work with the customer in order to find the optimal solution.

MWJ: How have evolving requirements of the communications sector affected your product mix/plans?

CM: As more companies are branching out to new and different technologies, integrating systems has become more difficult and important. We have seen everything from making products that can be used simultaneously for CDMA, TDMA and MSM, to products which are capable of handling the 800, 900, 1800 and 1900 MHz spectrums. The telecommunications market is trying to find new ways to save both space and money, while being able to use every available technology and every kilohertz of bandwidth at their disposal. The bandwidth driver for 3G, 4G, data and video will be the most prevalent of demands.

MWJ: What new technologies do you foresee impacting your product lines?

CM: The two most significant are nano-switching and cryogenic reception. Also, we foresee new technologies and revolutionary uses for optical technologies that will indirectly affect our company.

MWJ: Is there a significant difference between domestic and overseas markets?

CM: There is and there isn’t. Even though the actual technologies and deployment are very different, the end goal of all the companies is very similar. While a device may not function in another market, a similar product would be required in almost every market. All the markets are always concerned with coverage, capacity and economics.

MWJ: How much of your communications products and solutions have dual usage for military and commercial markets?

CM: Many of our applications have dual usage. While quite often the frequency ranges will overlap for military and commercial applications, both have uses for high power (transmit) and low power (receive) functions. The major difference between the two applications is that military customers usually have the performance specifications as their primary concern while commercial customers usually have price and economics as their main focus. Our primary methodology, in order to optimize engineering productivity, is to design units that fit both market places.

Bill Flerchinger
Strategic Product Planning Manager
Agilent Wireless Division


MWJ: As a supplier to the wireless systems market, what information would you like to see from the systems providers?

BF: The two primary areas of information from systems providers relate to their interconnectivity and emerging wireless technology needs. In the case of interconnectivity we need to understand requirements for physical connections (like GP-IB, LAN, USB, etc.) as well as the software interconnectivity (drivers, OS, etc.), both today and in the future.

Understanding what new wireless technologies are needed and when they will be deployed is essential. The acceleration of digital wireless technologies continues at an unprecedented rate for broadband wireless access, wireless data access, high mobility cellular, specialized mobile radio and military applications. There is literally no segment of the wireless market that is not moving to new digital access technologies or to 2nd, 3rd and even 4th generation technologies. Agilent has or is developing new test solutions to support this evolution. We have engineers serving on all the major standards boards and committees to help us ensure that our customers designs and products meet those standards.

MWJ: How have evolving requirements of the communications sector affected your product mix/plans?

BF: We have a comprehensive set of test solutions for every stage of the wireless device life cycles and for each major digital communication technology. We continue to build on very early successful products and extend those solutions to evolving technology and customer needs. This has helped the industry, since most of our products can be upgraded to new capabilities. These include power supplies, oscilloscopes, logic analyzers, signal generators, vector signal analyzers, spectrum analyzers, network analyzers and one-box testers. We are also driven to design for future needs. Specifically, to accommodate higher data rates, increasing system bandwidths and higher frequency ranges by taking advantage of the latest technology available to provide industry leading test solutions for the next generation of systems.

MWJ: What new technologies do you foresee impacting your product lines?

BF: The evolution of existing high mobility cellular standards like GPRS, EGPRS, cdma2000, 1xEV DO release 0 and W-CDMA will continue. We continue to enhance our products for these technologies. Additionally, there are several new technologies that will have new focus in the coming year. These include HSDPA, HSUPA, 1xEV DO release A, TD-SCDMA, Flash OFDM and others. Broadband wireless access and wireless data access technologies like Bluetooth®, UWB (Ultra-wideband 802.15.3a), WLAN (802.11x), WiMax (802.16) and ZigBee® (802.15.4) will continue to keep our attention.

One of the areas that I see having a significant impact on the industry is the “converging wireless device.” This is the personal electronic device that everyone will carry with them, which is a cell phone with multiple high mobility technologies plus other features like GPS, Bluetooth®, WLAN, FM stereo, digital multimedia (DVB-H or DMB) receivers, etc. It has tremendous time-to-market and cost pressures and will continue to be an opportunity to efficiently integrate, validate and verify the capabilities both in development and production environments.

MWJ: Is there a significant difference between domestic and overseas markets?

BF: There are many differences between domestic and overseas markets. However, with the globalization that has taken place over the last decade, the differences are becoming less and less. Still there are unique needs in the wireless market around the globe. Examples include language localization, customer use models and differences like Christmas or Lunar holidays that drive customer buying patterns. There are also emerging technologies that are geographically focused. For example, the Chinese TD-SCDMA 3G cellular standard, DMB (Digital Multimedia Broadcast) currently being deployed in Korea and Japan, MediaFLO initially US only and DVB-H being trailed in Europe. With our strong global support, delivered locally, we can better meet the unique needs of our customers no matter where they are in the world.

MWJ: How much of your communications products and solutions have dual usage for military and commercial applications?

BF: Many of Agilent’s design, verification and test products see dual usage. In some instances it is the same product but with different software or hardware configurations. In other instances the products are specifically targeted to specific market segments. We have test solutions for both.

The TCS Perspective

Vanu Bose
Founder and CEO
Vanu Inc.


TCS: As a wireless systems builder, what would you like to see from the component and subsystem industries/segments?

VB: We see five key subsystems in a software radio system: the antenna, power amplification, RF up/down conversion, A/D and D/A conversion and the processing engine.

We would like to see more commoditization of components through the use of standardized interfaces. The antenna/PA interface is fairly well standardized at this point, as is the RF/PA interface. The RF-digital interface is just evolving. There are two competing industry standardization efforts, OBSAI and CPRI, but neither one is flexible enough to support multiple standards and incorporate the necessary control and management interfaces to integrate with infrastructure equipment from multiple vendors. An open RF-digital interface with sufficient flexibility and control is essential for reducing the cost of wireless infrastructure systems.

Another feature that would provide significant benefit in the RF section would be tunable narrowband RF filters, perhaps based on MEMS technology or some other new technology. This would significantly increase the performance, capacity and interference rejection of infrastructure systems. The A/D and D/A technology has made significant progress in the last ten years, in particular in the spurious free dynamic range of high speed A/D converters and the functionality of digital up/down converters. While they are available from multiple vendors, they will need to incorporate the open digital-RF interface in order to drive volumes up and costs down in the future. The processing platform portion of the supply chain is in the best shape, with a wide variety of processing platforms available from FPGA to DSPs to GPPs.

TCS: How have evolving requirements of the communications sector affected your product mix/plans?

VB: A major goal of a software radio system is to increase the pace of change in wireless systems by replacing fork lift upgrades with software downloads. We view changing requirements as a good thing, and something that our technology can help to address.

TCS: What new technologies do you foresee impacting your product line?

VB: RF MEMS technology, in the form of tunable high-Q RF filters, has the potential to impact both the performance and cost of the system. Also, improvement in MCPA technology to improve efficiency and lower overall system cost will be important.

TCS: Is there a significant difference in the requirements of local and outside (N. America) markets?

VB: Large established international markets such as Europe have similar requirements as the US Tier I market. However, international requirements for new network builds in emerging countries such as India and Africa are very different. Certainly cost is a driving factor in these markets, especially since many of the areas have low population density. In some ways these requirements are similar to rural America, but more extreme in terms of cost sensitivity. Other requirements that differ are environmental factors and the quality and availability of infrastructure services such as power and telecom. Power is often unreliable, and regulation of frequency and voltage is not as tight. Telecom services are often unavailable in many areas where coverage is desired, and a cell phone is often the first phone that people in these areas have ever had. The lack of telecom infrastructure requires creativity in backhaul solutions, including unlicensed and licensed wireless as well as satellite.

TCS: How much of communications products and solutions have dual usage as in commercial and military?

VB: As the military moves more towards leveraging commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) technologies, more and more commercial communication products will find use in military applications. For example, we recently announced that we successfully completed and demonstrated a prototype mobile GSM cellular base station with satellite backhaul for secure, rapid, field deployable applications for the military. We were awarded the development contract from the US Army Communications Electronics Command Research, Development and Engineering Center (CERDEC).

The prototype extended the capabilities of our commercial base station to address the mobility and encryption required to support dismounted soldiers on the battlefield. The Anywave Base Station, built on commercially available hardware, speeds development and deployment times to the field for the military and speeds time to market for commercial deployments. The small form factor and remote management capabilities will enable application to a number of new market opportunities for secure, mobile communications.

Adrian Nemcek
President, Networks Business
Motorola Inc.


TCS: As a wireless systems builder, what would you like to see from the component and subsystem industries/segments?

AN: As the general purpose computing and telecommunications industries continue to align on technologies, telecommunications network infrastructure is being based increasingly on COTS and Free Open Source Software (FOSS) components. In many cases, we don’t see these aspects of our products to be points of differentiation for our customers. We do see prudent leverage of this area to offer advantages in time to market and economies of scale. We would like for suppliers into the COTS and FOSS environment to continually evolve their solutions to include carrier grade standards. Further, we would like for more standardization bodies to drive standards and profiles in this area. This applies to platform and board level standards such as ATCA as well as software component standards such as Carrier Grade Linux (CGL) and Service Availability Forum (SAF). In particular, we would like to see the industry move up on the food chain with increased standardization to facilitate a greater ecosystem of Carrier Grade network management solutions.

TCS: How have evolving requirements of the communications sector affected your product mix/plans?

AN: The telecommunications sector is rapidly moving down a path of convergence. Integration across Internet, wireless and wireline technology is driving greater demand among end users and operators for delivery of new innovative voice, data and video services at faster speeds and lower costs.

Motorola is meeting these demands by making investments in the access technologies that are crucial today and will continue to gain momentum in the future — DSL, fiber, WiMAX, cellular, cable. We foresee carriers will continue the rapid adoption of IMS to provide a common session control and service/application foundation across these networks.

We are committed to delivering seamless mobility solutions that leverage IP-based technologies and allow operators to deliver compelling, new end-user services across a converged services network. Motorola’s Networks portfolio continues to leverage our heritage in cellular and core networks, as well as our focus on next generation network solutions and services such as “push-to” technology, enhanced multimedia messaging, wireless broadband and WiMAX, MVNO capabilities and other service delivery platforms.

The rapid growth of these new technologies, increasing complexity of networks and the competitive pressures to have networks operating at peak performance has also led many operators to enlist Motorola’s experience in providing managed services.

Through a converged services network, operators can integrate multiple access technologies such as cellular, WiFi and broadband technologies, while offering their customers a consistent service experience across all the environments cost effectively. Users now can have a single device and a single service provider for all their communications needs, with the ability to personalize services. Additionally, users can experience a diverse portfolio of applications seamlessly whenever they need them and wherever they are at an affordable price.

TCS: What new technologies do you foresee impacting your product line?

AN: IP-based networks (internal and end-to-end voice over IP and real-time);
Media over IP (wireless and wireline)
IP Multi-media Subsystem;
Peer-to-Peer applications;
Mesh technologies for wireless;
Increased penetration of fixed interfaces to residences (DSL, fiber and cable);
Ever increasing performance of wireless broadband standards (WiMAX, 3GPP HSUPA, 3GPP2 HSDPA);
Security;
Content management;
Intelligence/capability in the edge/consumer device.
IMS and IP-based technologies will have a huge impact on Motorola’s products and solutions as well as the industry as a whole.

  • IMS is designed to support both wireless and wireline networks and is independent of the access technology. IMS will enable a rapid deployment of IP-based services across a network unlike the slow rollout of services tied to a legacy circuit-based switch.
  • Motorola has developed an IP-based architecture for its CDMA RAN product line to provide a number of benefits such as enhanced connectivity options out to the cell sites, greater system capacities and enhanced services.
  • An all IP-based architecture Carrier Access Points (CAP) is being developed first for the Motorola wi4 802.16e systems. Peer-to-peer connectivity at the RF sites eliminates the requirement for expensive base site controllers or radio network controllers. The CAP architecture supports the movement to an IMS core, which is a key enabler for seamless mobility services.
    The demand for wireless broadband continues to drive the market.
  • Motorola’s unlicensed spectrum Canopy product line has enjoyed three years of solid substantial growth providing broadband data and VOIP services to homes and small businesses. As WiMAX emerges, the 802.16e licensed spectrum systems will deliver these same fixed based services and even more with full mobility for voice and broadband data services. Motorola is helping to drive these solutions within the industry with our MOTO wi4 solutions.
    3G wireless technologies will also continue to gain momentum worldwide.
  • On the UMTS front, the new standards incorporating HSDPA and HSUPA will enable a more cost-effective, high-speed data service and VoIP service.

TCS: Is there a significant difference in the requirements of local and outside markets (assuming you mean domestic and international)?

AN: Yes and no: We’re operating in a global market. Users’ increased demand for broadband, new services and seamless mobility is occurring across the globe and Motorola has a portfolio of solutions geared to specific operator environments whether they are wireless, wireline, incumbent, Greenfield, serving either metropolitan or rural areas.

1) Operators are looking to make their bundle sticky (basically providing FMC across as many devices in as many environments as possible). The idea is to make it more attractive to consumers to purchase a bundle rather than individual services. This is a developed market perspective and the drive is for compelling services/features that span the access technologies and devices.

2) In emerging markets, the focus is on cost (Opex and Capex) and the most efficient means to deploy basic telecommunications services to large populations with low ARPU.

TCS: How much of communications products and solutions have dual usage as in commercial and military?

AN: We often see successful communications technologies developed in one domain gain adoption in the other. Both CDMA and mesh technologies were originally developed for military applications. From there, CDMA became a foundational technology in the growth of the world’s commercial cellular service. Motorola’s mesh technology enjoys wide commercial deployment providing a robust, scalable solution that reduces backhaul costs and enables peer-to-peer networking.

Increasingly, we are seeing the military adopt commercial technologies or slight extension on commercial technologies. This is true of common basic components (computing, protocols, etc.) as well as the basic RF technologies and standards. Costs and efficiencies will continue to drive this trend. Further, government organizations are looking to leverage public carrier networks in their solutions of the future and to find ways to allow their disparate networks to interoperate.

Today we also see public safety employees and the military use cellular communications as a backup and supplement to their dedicated and privately managed communication systems. The ongoing development of broadband data systems will provide an alternative service for voice and data for these groups while IMS systems being developed will provide IP connectivity between private and public systems to enable new coverage and service solutions for voice and data.

The European Perspective

The dynamic of the European wireless technologies market has changed dramatically since the height of the telecoms/Internet boom. Following the sell off of 3G licenses for large sums, the reality of the implementation of this technology has not matched original expectations and other competitive technologies have come to the fore. There is the continued emergence of WLAN, while more long-term effort is being put into the development of new technologies such as ultra-wideband (UWB) systems and WiMAX. In the telecommunications sector Europe is facing competition from the Far East with the emergence of low end products. Conversely though, the increased demand from developing countries for low cost products is a potential market that could be exploited. The wireless telecommunications market is international and thus, communication standards must offer the potential of ubiquitous coverage worldwide. In the defence sector, however, there is more of a tendency for sourcing from European suppliers, particularly in reaction to US export regulation.

Jean-Luc Etienne
General Manager
Chelton Telecom & Microwave/Sales
France


MWJ: As a supplier to the wireless systems market, what information would you like to see from the systems providers?

J-LE: This very demanding market has forced many suppliers to define their approach in order to cope effectively. For example, delivery times are often shorter than the manufacturing cycle time, especially for components like ours. Consequently, Chelton Telecom & Microwave has established a strategy of working closely with its customers to understand their requirements and to respond to their need for flexibility. Also, market forecasting needs to be accurate to limit financial risks and to create a responsive supply chain. We realise that the unpredictability of the market can make forecasting difficult but we need as much information about business development as possible to cater for sudden variations in predicted forecasts.

Also, as technology is becoming more and more complex, system providers often look to high end companies like CTM that have the facility to satisfy these complex specifications and that have the capability to respond to integrated solutions such as modules or sub-systems. Through our divisional setup and with easy access to research and development, we can meet these requirements and are encouraging system providers to openly discuss and exchange ideas about their technical needs with our engineers.

MWJ: How have evolving requirements of the communications sector affected your product mix/plans?

J-LE: For a long time, cost reduction has been a major driving force in the telecom business and in the good times when demand was increasing this could be accepted. But now, when there is no increase in volume we can no longer make savings through better negotiations with the supplier or organise production better and must find alternative means such as cheaper technical solutions. Also, due to systems improvements, we have to be ready to accept tighter specifications to satisfy the trend for component development without any additional cost.

Meanwhile, Asian competitors are emerging with low end products. It is very difficult to compete with these companies, even with low cost, off shore manufacturing plants, as our overheads are at the western European level! Thus, our strategy, in the wireless market, is to concentrate on low cost, high end technology products. In this context, the ability of R&D to innovate is fundamental in order to present road maps for competitive and effective products. To achieve success, our plans include partnerships with suppliers to develop new materials and with universities to extend our R&D vision and capabilities.

MWJ: What new technologies do you foresee impacting your product lines?

J-LE: In the telecom field, time is a sensitive parameter, as the end customer needs to respond to its marketing plan to cover the increasing demands of subscribers. Therefore, great effort has gone into our R&D to produce SMD version isolators in order to follow the trend for pick and place automated systems. The second important factor is the production of low cost products and hopefully this technology also leads to achieving parallel low profile, low weight solutions, that will satisfy our customers.

For telecommunication satellites the ongoing development of new satellite spacebuses like Alphabus has driven our customers to develop high power payloads. Our market awareness and experience has led us to undertake concurrent engineering, design, testing and qualification of high power vacuum solutions. In the radar field, more and more radars are using active antenna with phased arrays, thus decreasing the need for waveguides. And, in the context of MMIC generalisation, discrete elements, mainly used for power handling limitation, are emerging. The idea is to integrate these discrete elements into modules, for example combining limiting diodes with ferrite-based components.

MWJ: Is there a significant difference between domestic, European and International markets?

J-LE: Yes, definitely, but it is not so true in the telecom field where the players tend to be globally based. Ideally CTM aims, “To be a domestic supplier in each country.” However, operating internationally requires an efficient and reactive worldwide sales and support network. Achieving this target is my main mission, having just joined the company’s management team.

In the military and space market, being a domestic supplier still offers a clear advantage, for proximity of service, confidentiality and even easier communication (speaking the same language in particular). On the other hand, Europe is being viewed as being more and more domestic. Through the construction of the European defence sector, European customers are clearly expressing their preference for European suppliers following the reinforcement of US export regulation. This evolution in the HiRel market is impacting on our strategy to assume a leading position in Europe.

MWJ: How much of your communications products and solutions have dual usage for military and commercial applications?

J-LE: Most of the technologies developed for communications products can be used for military applications after adjustment to be compliant with military operating conditions. This is especially true for L-band and S-band systems, for which the frequencies are not so different from cellular network frequencies. For X-band applications there are also common types of products with radio link systems. As an example, our circulators are being used for IFF application (1,030 to 1,090 MHz), which was initially developed for GSM BTS (925 to 960 MHz).

For military applications quantities are far less than those for commercial ones, so the investment for industrialization is not at the same level. Nevertheless, even if prices are higher in the military market, the technology, together with our expertise, enables our customers to achieve cost reduction targets along with having confidence in using high quality products.

Graham Martin
Business Development Director
Chipcon, Norway


MWJ: As a supplier to the wireless systems market, what information would you like to see from the systems providers?

GM: We would like to see greater transparency as to future frequency requirements, especially when new frequencies or bands are being considered. It would also be interesting to receive feedback on the requirements of the RF link (receiver sensitivity, output power, blocking performance, etc.), particularly which trade-offs are acceptable considering that very often a significant increase in RF link performance comes at a price, be it cost, power consumption, etc. The system power budget requirements and the required or preferred choice of microcontroller and memory technology are also significant in complete system on chip solutions.

In wireless mesh networking solutions it is important to understand the different requirements of the individual markets and again what trade-offs are possible. Many additional features are possible such as increased network security, increased network speed, faster network response times or enhancements such as over the air download. They often come at an additional cost (e.g., through increased system memory requirements) though, which may be acceptable to military, industrial or professional systems but not to certain consumer applications. Other helpful input would include future mechanical and environmental requirements. The reason being that due to the design cycle of new RF systems such decisions usually have to occur one to two years before we actually start delivering volume production, so it is important to receive such information at a very early stage.

MWJ: How have evolving requirements of the communications sector affected your product mix/plans?

GM: The requirements of the communications sector has lead us to focus on achieving high RF link reliability, low cost, low power and smaller sizes. In particular, the evolving and rapidly growing deployment of various wireless communications systems means that we have to put more emphasis on ensuring robust reliable wireless communication in very busy environments (interference). Two-way systems with messaging acknowledgment are increasing in popularity as well as systems with (adaptive) frequency hopping or DSSS, along with good receiver sensitivity and blocking properties.

Battery operation and increased miniaturization are driving size and power requirements. Therefore, complete RF system on chip solutions (radio, microcontroller, memory, peripherals on one IC) are helping to decrease size, power consumption and costs. In response, Chipcon has recently announced the fourth generation of products to meet all of these requirements.

MWJ: What new technologies do you foresee impacting your product lines?

GM: Low power, low cost and robust wireless sensor networking will play a major role in our future product lines based on IEEE 802.15.4 radio standards and ZigBee. This technology will be far reaching as it can be used in multiple applications including homeland security, home and building automation, health care, asset management, transportation, etc. Also significant is the utilisation of low power, low cost, robust RFICs in the ISM bands, which will replace older, simpler technologies such as most 27/49 MHz solutions and simple SAW filter solutions.

MWJ: Is there a significant difference between domestic, European and International markets?

GM: We see no significant difference in geographical requirements other than the variations in local frequency regulations in the sub 1 GHz ISM band. The differences are more in relation to market areas — consumer, industrial, automotive, etc.

MWJ: How much of your communications products and solutions have dual usage for military and commercial applications?

GM: All of our communications products can be used in commercial and military applications, although additional screening/selection would be necessary for certain military scenarios.

Wolfgang Bosch
CTO
Filtronic ICS, UK

MWJ: As a supplier to the wireless systems market, what information would you like to see from the systems providers?

WB: I would like to see better visibility of market trends in system design and solutions, particularly in relation to alternative competing technologies. This would be very helpful when making internal technology decisions. Trends for new frequency bands and their deployment by region and the overall effect of WiMAX on the cellular rollout plans are of great interest too. It would be useful for our subsystem designers to have a closer involvement earlier in the system design process, thus enabling them to make the appropriate system trade-offs at an earlier stage. Especially as designing to black box customer specifications, electrical and mechanical requirements is often very challenging and may adversely impact performance, time to market, cost and manufacturability. However, the inclusion of subsystems suppliers earlier in the design process would require the system providers to reveal some of the closely guarded IP in their systems.

MWJ: How have evolving requirements of the communications sector affected your product mix/plans?

WB: In general there is an increasing demand for higher data capacity solutions that require high yielding technologies, innovative designs and an increased level of integration, which has led to newly developed product lines matching the complex demands of emerging standards. In addition, the development of new communications systems and the growth of existing ones, necessitate the development of equipment that caters to several standards. As a result, although similar in function, the product mix is characterized by equipment development for a number of standards. There is also a noticeable increase in demand for products targeting developing countries with a greater price pressure. This has driven the product mix towards equipment at frequency bands suitable for these regions but at a lower price.

MWJ: What new technologies do you foresee impacting your product lines?

WB: Any new technology that impacts on the deployment of the communication systems, for which Filtronic designs RF equipment, will impact our product lines. For example, the deployment of emerging WiMAX and related systems will significantly affect our technology mix and our products. Specific technologies that impact on Filtronic’s current product portfolio are emerging power semiconductors, DSP and implementation technologies that enable intelligent, highly efficiency and linear power amplifiers. Another area to watch is room temperature ‘supercooled’ filter technology that would be significant for our current product line.

MWJ: Is there a significant difference between domestic, European and International markets?

WB: As far as our product portfolio is concerned there is little difference between these markets and, in order to be successful, communication standards must offer the potential of ubiquitous coverage worldwide. As such, equipment developed for these systems address a worldwide market.

MWJ: How much of your communications products and solutions have dual usage for military and commercial applications?

WB: Typically our communications products are customized and are therefore specific to each application and do not find dual usage in military and commercial markets. However, the technology, design and manufacturing techniques and the expertise we have developed have a high degree of transportability and capabilities developed for one market often find application in others.

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