As the mobile network struggles to cope with the growing level of traffic and pressures on CAPEX, the RF electronics of a typical base station design are subject to great innovation namely in the form of tower mounted amplifiers, remote radio heads, and active antennas.

Tower mounted amplifiers represent one of the best values for improved base station performance for service providers. Balancing the system link budget equation can now be easily accomplished at nominal cost, however, remote radio heads, will represent a threat to TMA market growth. In turn, remote radio heads (RRHs) have become one of the most important subsystems of today's new distributed base stations. The remote radio head contains the base station's RF circuitry plus analog-to-digital/digital-to-analog converters and up/down converters. Active antennas, especially for wireless infrastructure base station applications, utilize the latest technology and will allow beam forming and shaping that will help today's crowded conditions in a data-rich signal environment. Active antennas could themselves affect the RRH market as that function is now incorporated into the active antenna.

Lance Wilson, research director for mobile networks at ABI Research, states: “Tower top active RF electronics will become more important as LTE roles out over the next few years. This will be especially true for remote radio heads and active antennas.”

All three of the above major RF electronics sub-systems have therefore become intertwined as functions start to converge. This data package details tower mounted amplifier and remote radio head revenue and shipments by air interface, frequency, technology, type (TMA), output power (RRH), and configuration. Total revenue, shipments, and ASP trends are also presented for the period 2012-2017. In addition, the study reports vendor market share for 2012. Active antennas, which are just emerging, are examined for 2012-2017 sales and ASP trends. The effect that active antennas could have on RRH sales is also reviewed for 2012 and 2017. This market data package will also be important for RF component manufacturers, base station OEMs, wireless infrastructure sub-assembly builders, and service operators.

These findings are part of ABI Research’s Tower Top RF Electronics Research Service which includes additional Competitive Analyses, Vendor Matrices, Market Data, and Insights.