- Buyers Guide
The demands of cost reduction and greater efficiency in cellular base station design are leading to a rapidly growing market for remote radio heads. According to a new study from ABI Research, this market is on track to exceed a value of $1 billion in 2017. Cellular base stations are now undergoing a design revolution. A base station was traditionally a rack of equipment inside a shelter. That design is now becoming anachronistic because it is expensive, and because the required coaxial cable running up the tower to the antennas often results in significant losses of power.
The market for mobile handset IC, including platform and connectivity ICs, surpassed $32 billion in 2011 and is forecast to grow a further 11 percent in 2012 to reach $35.7 billion. Growth is being led largely by the smartphone segment, with ultra-low end handsets also growing strongly. “Qualcomm stands out as the market leader with 26 percent overall share in 2011,” stated Peter Cooney practice director, of semiconductors, “its continuing focus on the handset market and in particular its efforts to increase platform integration look set to further strengthen Qualcomm’s hold on the market in the near term.”
The number of Wi-Fi enabled devices shipped in 2012 is expected to surpass 1.5 billion. Growth is occurring across many markets including mobile handsets, laptops, media tablets, printers, TVs, and automotive. “Since 2009 over 9 billion Wi-Fi enabled devices have been shipped,” commented Peter Cooney, wireless connectivity practice director, “whilst growth was driven by networking in the early years the smartphone soon became the major market.
Wireline operators have been the largest market for IMS services to date, but due to an increase in the number of mobile IMS deployments, ABI Research forecasts IMS revenues to reach $3.4 billion in the next five years.
Wireless infrastructure equipment revenues continued their downward trend in the second quarter of 2012 reaching only $11.2 billion – a 4.7 percent decrease from the first quarter of 2012 and a 14 percent decrease from the same quarter one year ago. “Total revenues for wireless network equipment reported by the vendors was the lowest amount that we have seen since 3Q 2003; reaching a 35 quarter low,” says Nick Marshall, principal analyst, networks.
Mobile capital expenditure in Western Europe contracted 3.8 percent quarter-on-quarter (QoQ) even though mobile operators are building out coverage for 4G, and to a lesser extent enhancing capacity and coverage of their 3G networks. Not only was QoQ spend down but also, year-on-year (YoY) growth was down significantly (19 percent). “Overall capital expenditure for the region is expected to drop 12 percent to $14.4 billion for the year.
In monitoring the early progress of LTE, many industry insiders closely watch countries where mobile operators are aggressively deploying new networks, and offering commercial LTE devices and services. In South Korea, the United States, and Japan, the number of LTE subscribers surpassed that of WiMAX subscribers in 4Q11, 1Q12, and 2Q12, respectively. The findings are part of new market data from market intelligence firm ABI Research detailing the mobile broadband transition.
Companies, governments, and industries are increasingly turning to RFID as they look to modernize their operations, becoming more efficient and enabling quicker, more convenient service. The traditional uses of RFID for the identification of animals, people, and within the automotive sector are continuing to grow and are projected to increase by $2.8 billion from 2012 to 2017. However, ABI Research’s new RFID Market Tracker found that modernizing RFID applications will grow twice as fast with annual revenues derived from these jumping by $4.5 billion in the same timeframe.
ABI Research expects the market for small cell microwave backhaul equipment to grow to over $6.4 billion in 2017, up from a forecast $1.5 billion for 2012 which represents a 35% compound annual growth rate.
Tower top RF electronics, consisting of active antennas, remote radio heads, and tower mounted amplifiers, are important parts of modern macro base station hardware.
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