As essential building blocks to wireless communications networks, power amplifiers ride waves similar to that of the broader telecom markets. These devices are the critical link in the transmission and reception of all high power wireless signals and are found in every cell phone and cellular base station. Shipments of power amplifiers into cellular networks, including 2G through the emerging 3G networks, represented a staggering 68 percent of the total market for gallium arsenide (GaAs) and silicon-based amplifiers in 2003, according to ABI Research. Despite pockets of strong growth in the overall cellular market, the market for power amplifiers for both cellular infrastructure and terminals are set to represent 49 percent of the broader market for power amplifiers by 2008.

At the close of 2003, the market for GaAs and silicon wireless power transistors, including silicon germanium (SiGe), stood just shy of $2 B. Though the markets will not be characterized by high growth, they will remain relatively flat moving forward. Some of the decline in cellular handset and infrastructure power amplifiers will be offset by gains in other markets, including Wi-Fi, broadband wireless technologies such as WiMAX/802.16, military applications and avionics. Collectively, these segments will represent the remaining 51 percent of this market in 2008. According to recent findings from ABI Research, companies like SiGe Semiconductors, RF Micro Devices, Maxim and Micro Mobio are tapping these opportunities by targeting the niche opportunity of Wi-Fi power amplifiers. On the higher power side as broadband wireless markets recover, this may offer additional opportunity for companies. For more information on this study, please visit: