The one certainty with technology is that it develops and changes at its own and often unpredictable pace. Crucial to determining the success and progression of any industry is how effectively it embraces new technology, exploits it and adapts it to the reality of the marketplace. The RF and microwave industry is no exception. With its focus firmly on Europe this article attempts to take a reading of the current status of academic and commercial development and identify and quantify the main trends influencing it.

The information/Internet age has technologically and commercially ‘shrunk’ the globe so that knowledge, expertise, investment and new markets are easily accessible. The result is a more open and competitive market, particularly in the mass production sector where low cost, large scale operations in China, other Asian markets and emerging economies such as India are having an impact. As a consequence, Western Europe in particular has had to adapt, realign and focus on its strengths. It is now capitalising on its wealth of expertise and technical skills to become a hub and resource for research and development and value added products.

In Eastern Europe the opening up of borders and the removal of trade barriers has led to expansion and a developing market that promises scope for cross-European trade. The region is also a potential source of competition due to the growth in low cost manufacturing facilities. But will the rest of Europe treat this as a threat or be proactive and take the opportunity to invest and forge partnerships?

Whether the influential factors affecting the European RF and microwave industry are global or regional it is how they are being addressed that is critical. Over recent years great strides have been made towards creating an environment in Europe that offers an inclusive, collaborative approach to technological and market development. Structured, coherent policies have been devised and implemented, backed up by financial and practical support. Examples include the European Union Networks of Excellence (NoE) Programmes, many of which target the RF and microwave sector, and significant pan-European initiatives such as the Galileo Project, which are providing focus and momentum.

These initiatives will feature at this year’s European Microwave Week (EuMW) in Manchester and be the subject of papers in the four individual conferences: the European Microwave Conference (EuMC), the European Conference on Wireless Technology (ECWT), the European Microwave Integrated Circuits Conference (EuMIC) — formerly the GAAS® Symposium — and the European Radar Conference (EuRAD). In advance, Microwave Journal has capitalised on its unique access to the conference chairmen, academic contributors and key industrial players to evaluate current activities in the European RF and microwave market and identify the trends shaping its future.

In this report, the individual conference chairmen each present an overview of their market sectors, complemented by a commercial perspective as executives of companies that play a key role in the European microwave industry contribute to the ‘company survey’. To provide an international viewpoint, Microwave Journal has canvassed companies across the globe actively participating in the European microwave market.

In order to provide a context for these opinions let’s first consider the political, commercial and technological environment in which the European microwave industry is operating.

European Perspective

By its very nature Europe is a conglomeration of individual and disparate countries with its own established industries and centres of academic and commercial research. In the past, many of these research establishments would have worked independently to a large degree. However, that has gradually changed with the expanded European Union putting greater emphasis on cooperation and collaboration to pool resources, harness technological expertise and forge partnerships to create real and productive initiatives.

Technology and research is at the core of the EU’s strategy to deliver growth, competitiveness and employment while maintaining social and environmental sustainability. The RF and microwave field encompasses many leading edge technologies that can stimulate such growth. In particular wireless applications are seen as fundamental to the European Union’s future vision of ‘ambient intelligence’ featuring ‘always-on’ connectivity for the citizen, while the defence and space sectors are key too.

A major medium for addressing these issues is the EU Framework Programmes (FPs), which identify key areas of research and development and organise and fund specific pan-European collaborative projects. Through the Networks of Excellence Programmes the current 6th FP is supporting many large microwave-related activities.

These include projects for power amplifiers (TARGET), RF MEMS (AMICOM), antennas (ACE), integrated microsystems (INTEGRAMplus) and 4G antennas (4MORE). More broadly other projects address wireless communications (NEWCOM) and wireless deployable networks (WIDENS). In the satellite field SatNEx aims to rectify the fragmentation in satellite communications research by bringing together Europe’s leading academic institutions and research organisations.

The 6th FP is due to finish at the end of 2006 when it will be replaced by the new 7th Framework Programme, which will run for seven years (2007–2013) with a budget of approximately €54 B. Wireless technologies, both in terms of basic technologies and applications, will be key targets for FP7 projects, while a recent amendment to the FP7 proposal emphasised the importance of involving small and medium sized enterprises.

All these initiatives provide incentives and a focus for activity. The same can be said for the Galileo Project to create Europe’s own global navigation satellite system, providing a highly accurate, guaranteed global positioning service under civilian control. When fully deployed the Galileo system will consist of 30 satellites and will be interoperable with GPS and GLONASS. As it progresses the project is gaining momentum and stimulating investment and technological advancement.

RF and microwave

The RF and microwave industry is diverse, providing components, systems and subsystems for applications as varied as telecommunications, telematics, medical, defence, automotive, aerospace and satellite communications. All are the subject of R&D activity in Europe where telecommunications remains a key driver. Now that 3G is finally making it’s presence felt the industry is squaring up to address the challenges of 3.5G and 4G with cognitive radio further down the developmental road.

Research into RF MEMS applications is to the fore. Europe is also focusing on microsystems and nanosystems. A new Framework 6 Integrated Project, INTEGRAMplus, was announced just prior to going to press. This €6.5 M European Commission funded, three-year programme will focus on integrating silicon-based MEMS components. Its ultimate goal is to stimulate take-up of micro and nanotechnologies by end users by providing flexible design and prototyping services, based on standardised modules, with a route to manufacture for highly integrated microsystems.

At the high frequency end of the spectrum there is increasing interest in exploiting mm-wave frequencies from 60 GHz upwards, helped by significant progress in the high frequency behaviour of deep sub-micron Silicon-on-insulator technologies. Also the development and adoption of 77 GHz automotive radar systems are impacting on the high end automotive sector, which is of key strategic importance to Europe’s economy. As well as automotive applications millimetre-wave technologies have been developed for point to point communications while passive millimetre-wave imaging is being employed for security applications. New markets and opportunities are also opening up for terahertz technologies in Europe.

Other factors to note that are likely to influence the RF and microwave industry in the future include: technological innovations to support higher integration, multifunctional MMICs enabling the combination of low power (logic) and high power switching and power amplification on a single chip. There is also demand for technologies with the ability to ‘shrink’ the size of the die, thereby enabling smaller footprints and lower costs, along with the availability of higher performance, higher frequency, lower cost plastic packaging.

Wireless Technologies

In an age when access to information, communication and infotainment, any time, any place, anywhere has become a pre-requisite for modern life it is not surprising that the wireless technologies market is a focus for development and innovation. The mobile phone market is a prime example of the public’s hunger as the latest research from Informa Telecoms and Media’s, World Cellular Information Service (WCIS) shows that in 30 countries the number of mobile phone subscriptions exceeds the size of the population and in the UK, Sweden and Italy penetration has passed 110 percent.

Also, the fact that in 2005 Russia was the third largest mobile market in the world through adding more than 50 million mobile subscriptions is evidence of the impact that the opening up of political and territorial borders is having on Eastern Europe where there has been significant mobile infrastructure expansion.

However, rising numbers does not mean rising revenues for operators as regulatory and competitive pressures are squeezing margins. This point is illustrated by the fact that in Western Europe average revenues per active subscriber fell slightly in 2005 and are forecast to do the same in 2006. Nordic operators are faring particularly badly, prompting them to invest in emerging wireless markets including Eastern Europe.

That is the market but what is the technology feeding it? It may be hard to believe but one bright star is 3G. Licenses are finally being used, the infrastructure is shipping and handsets enabled to utilise the technology are more widely available. As would be expected Asia is strong but the European market has picked up significantly too.

Away from mobile phone technology 2006 is seeing advances in high frequency electronics being applied to other distinct wireless communications applications and services. Also, the desire for multimedia access in the home and ‘on the go’ is a key factor in driving the development of WiFi, WiMAX, UWB, MIMO and 3G HSDPA/HSUPA. On the latter technology, research from Informa Telecoms & Media states that HSDPA networks are expected to be switched on in all major Western European markets before the end of 2006.


The semiconductors market is one where developmental and price pressures have brought about changes in structure, geographical activity and the areas of application. According to World Semiconductor Trade Statistics (WSTS) worldwide chip sales increased by 6.8 percent in 2005. However, the European semiconductor market did not follow suit, decreasing by 0.4 percent over the year with major contributory factors being the shift in mass market semiconductor manufacturing to the Far East and ongoing outsourcing activities.

In particular fabless manufacture has had an impact brought about by the fact that many companies researching and developing the next generation of semiconductors did not have the financial resources to be able to invest in fabricating their own chips. The result being the explosion in fabless companies with recent estimates being that globally there are over 750 fabless companies served by less than 15 independent foundries. The Fabless Semiconductor Association (FSA) reported that in 2005 fabless companies accrued revenue of over $40 B, accounting for nearly 18 percent of total semiconductor sales.

Similarly, many fabless companies themselves, along with wafer companies and integrated device manufacturers are contracting with outsourced semiconductor assembly and test companies. Key reasons being the search for smaller, higher density devices, along with materials with the capacity to offer better speed and performance.

These are all factors that have changed the dynamic of the semiconductor industry globally but particularly in Europe. However, Europe is not taking a back seat in this sector. The European Commissions’ Network of Excellence Programmes are at the forefront in the battle to keep Europe competitive in an ever changing market and it is achieving its targets for grouping European business into pan-European partnerships. Technologically, the NoE activity related to the development of gallium nitride and particularly the advancement of GaN MMICs is encouraging.

In the RF and microwave field, the mobile handset sector, the largest single product market for semiconductors outside the PC market, is dominant but others are significant too. For instance, the automotive semiconductor market is creeping up to 10 percent of the total semiconductor market and is particularly strong in Europe. Growth in this sector is forecast to continue as technological advances are made with regards to telematics, infotainment, vehicle networking and inter-vehicle networking.


The War on Terrorism, home security and regional volatility have put national and international defence and security in the spotlight as constantly changing threats have to be addressed. As a result Europe must militate against threats that are more diverse, less visible, and less predictable. Political, social, demographic and economic factors are key influences on the development and direction of European defence and security, with the challenge being to adapt and prosper within this changing environment.

A starting point is the European security strategy — A Secure Europe in a Better World — which proposes three strategic objectives for the European Union: ‘addressing threats, building security in our neighbourhood and an international order based on effective multilateralism’. As well as facing direct threats the strategy proposes that Europe must use its technological strengths to build the capability for deploying significant resources for peacekeeping, humanitarian aid and state-building activities, either on its own or in international alliances.

To achieve this requires an optimal use of the resources and the development of European industrial capabilities. To meet these challenges both governments and commercial enterprise are tending towards a collective European approach. Particular European Union initiatives include the development of a European Security Research Programme (ESRP), as part of the 7th EU Research Framework Programme, a key element of which is the Preparatory Action for Security Research (PASR).

In its first two years the European Commission started 25 demonstration projects and supporting actions. The set security priorities included protection of networked systems, protection against terrorism, enhancing crisis management, interoperability and integrated systems, and improving situation awareness. However, there are concerns with regards to its adequate funding after the European Parliament reduced the proposed budget for the third year of PASR from the €24 M proposed by the European Commission to €15 when voting on the EU 2006 Budget at the end of 2005.

Such programmes are not only paramount to security but also to the development of new technology by providing a structured and stable platform for initiatives to be taken.

Increasingly technologies, techniques and components developed for commercial applications are being adopted by the military sector. Significant recent trends include the convergence between radar and communications techniques and technologies, particularly CW-type radars taking advantage of low cost microwave components, and radars being developed that exploit communications techniques Also, research is being carried out into conformal antennas, the use of metamaterials and plasma antennas as well as the development of sparse antenna arrays.

Overviews and Surveys

The European Perspective provides the background and the context in which the European microwave industry is currently operating but how are the different technology sectors and individual companies faring is this environment? To obtain some answers the author has sought the views of the academic and industrial and taken European Microwave Week as its focus. The EuMW chairman offers a sector wide overview while the chairmen of the four individual conferences concentrate specifically on their market sectors. They consider how technology is developing and the long-term impact it is likely to have, while giving a perspective of how the sector fits into the overall microwave picture.

Industry gets to offer a commercial perspective and an insight into current market conditions and technological development via the Company Survey of executives from companies representing a wide cross section of the European microwave industry. The format is generally a brief overview of the company’s microwave activity, followed by comments on technological and market initiatives.

To obtain a global picture, the International Perspective, first introduced in 2005, attempts to offer a flavour of how the European microwave industry and market is perceived worldwide. International players spanning the geographical and technological development spectrum proffer opinions on the practicalities, barriers and benefits of competing in the European microwave market.

Industry-wide perspective

Microwave industry overview by EuMW General Chairman, Christopher Snowden

If participation in European Microwave Week is a good barometer, then the RF and microwave industry looks particularly healthy as this year the number of technical papers submitted reached a record of over 1150. Significantly too, the 790 papers accepted for presentation across the four conferences come from 52 countries, confirming the globalisation trends in our industry. EuMW takes great care to reflect worldwide developments and has been tailored to cover a wide range of interests in the RF, microwave, millimetre and submillimetre-wave fields including microwave and photonic devices, component technologies, circuits and systems, and this year a special effort has been made to focus on topical issues.

RF, microwave and millimetre-wave techniques are well covered by the European Microwave Conference, with both active and passive devices and circuits being prominent. The new European Microwave Integrated Circuits Conference addresses active devices and circuits based on compound semiconductors and other RF and microwave semiconductor materials. Record submissions for the European Conference on Wireless Technologies focus on circuit, sub-system and system level aspects of wireless communications, together with signal-processing techniques, while the European Radar Conference concentrates on radar techniques, systems, signal processing and applications. Common to all four conferences is an increased emphasis on applications.

Later in this article each of the conference chairmen proffer their views on the activity and developments in their particular field but first I shall try to highlight some general industry trends. Topical areas where there is significant activity include power amplifiers and linearization, ultra-wideband (UWB), terahertz technologies, metamaterials and MEMS. There is a very high degree of interest in antennas, sensing, phased arrays and propagation as well as filters, passive components and circuits.

Emerging technologies include techniques such as MIMO and imaging processes and the emphasis is very much on industrial and applications-oriented research. From a geographical perspective pan-European projects such as power devices (Si, GaAs, GaN) and power amplifiers have a significant role to play while defence and space initiatives, including satellite technologies are key areas of activity.

RF and microwave

Sector overview by EuMC, Chairman, Professor Tom Brazil

The RF and microwave sector is currently developing extremely strongly across the world and Europe is no exception. Wireless applications are now seen as fundamental to the European Union’s future vision of ‘ambient intelligence’ featuring ‘always-on’ connectivity for the citizen. Communications remains a key driver as GSM evolves through EDGE to advanced 4th generation systems, although there are great challenges in coping with the competing demands of linearity and efficiency in such emerging radio systems of very spectral efficiency. It is also clear that reconfigurability, so natural at the digital level, will be also required at the level of the microwave transceiver, leading ultimately to the ‘cognitive radio’ that can sense its environment and intelligently adapt itself to meet user needs optimally. RF MEMS can play a part here but more generally there are strong developments in Europe around microsystems and nanosystems, featuring distributed wireless sensors integrating many novel sensor technologies and addressing various applications ranging from RFID, climate monitoring, security and biomedical systems.

While wideband gap semiconductors open up undreamed of possibilities for microwave power generation per unit device width, there is also an increasing interest in exploiting mm-wave frequencies from 60 GHz upwards. The advantages of lack of spectral congestion, large bandwidths and small antenna size have always been challenged in the past by high component cost, including packaging but this is now beginning to be addressed by the remarkable progress in the high frequency behaviour of deep sub-micron Silicon-on-insulator technologies.

Significantly too, the high end automotive sector is of key strategic importance to Europe’s economy and there is continuing interest in automotive radar systems at 77 GHz with the aim of dramatically reducing road injuries and fatalities. At much higher frequencies, there are intriguing signs in Europe that the terahertz region, long unexploited, is beginning to open up entirely new markets and opportunities.

Satellite technology has been strongly supported in Europe for civilian applications through agencies such as the European Space Agency (ESA), and the continuing deployment of the Galileo system over the coming years, working in conjunction with UMTS and personal communication devices, offers very interesting possibilities for new localisation services, even while the user is indoors.

Research in Europe takes place at national level, but there is also a strong cooperative research ethos in Europe developed over many years of EU Framework Programmes (FPs). The current 6th FP is supporting many large microwave-related activities including power amplifiers (TARGET), RF MEMS (AMICOM) and antennas (ACE). The new 7th FP will extend over seven years with a budget of about €54 billion and will be launched at the end of 2006. From the emerging shape of the technical content of FP7, wireless is everywhere both in terms of basic technologies and applications.

Overall, I believe the RF and microwave sector is exciting, growing and of mainstream strategic importance with excellent future prospects.

Company Surveys

ABF Elettronica

Founded in 1986 the company’s main activities are the design and manufacture of passive components such as filters, duplexers and microwave subsystems, and active components including up/down converters using thermo bonding, wire bonding and chip on board techniques. The main manufacturing is at its Italian headquarters but since 2004 the company has turned its attention to the new opportunities of integration provided by emerging East European countries. Consequently, it has recently built a plant in Romania, in conjunction with strategic suppliers with which it has been cooperating for several years.

Core activity is the telecommunications market in the frequency range from 450 MHz to 38 GHz, where it specializes in the passive elements for radio equipment and in passive microwave elements in general. In order to optimize costs the current emphasis is to carry out mass production for customers and to move away from the military market.

ABF’s Alessandro Fossati believes that low cost materials and low cost production are key to development so long as they are allied to experience, skills and reliability. The training of skilled operators, leading to a quality product is just one example. He sees the telecommunications market with its desire for mass production at low cost being a driving force, with the momentum to move the market forward.

With the company’s focus on former East European countries Fossati envisages political issues having greater impact with governments moving to create the social and technological infrastructure to attract manufacturers to set up business and stimulate home markets for the products being produced. On the flip side he sees developed countries, such as his native Italy, focusing on research and development, employing the better educated who demand higher wages.

Chelton Telecom & Microwave (a Cobham Avionics & Surveillance Division company)

Dedicated to the microwave and RF field the company is structured into five distinct business units: the Systems business unit designs and produces sub-systems and systems such as test benches, test generators and radars; the Diodes and Modules business unit develops silicon PIN diodes with low, medium and high voltage and RF modules such as attenuators, limiters, switches and mixers; the RF Filters and Duplexers facility designs special and standard air cavity filters, ceramic filters, and lumped element filters; the Ferrite Devices business unit manufactures circulators, isolators and sub-systems, based on drop-in, SMD, coaxial and waveguide technologies.

With such a large portfolio the company addresses four major markets — telecoms, medical, defence and space — with a very strong presence in the last two, which is mainly due to its vast experience and being part of Cobham plc. Key products in these industries are high voltage PIN diodes and ferrite high power isolators, which allies to the company’s expertise in designing filters and duplexers for specific requirements with high rejection and low loss. The company utilises its engineers’ knowledge in ceramic technology, lumped element filters and waveguide filters as well as air cavity filters and it offers the capability of integrating components into systems.

In Europe and Asia the company is involved in all major defence and space programmes: Rafale, Eurofighter and Satellite communications. Also all five divisions are encouraged to develop products for special market niches such as high voltage PIN diodes for MRI Systems, ferrite devices for telecom base stations and products for radio links.

Philippe Genin, CTM’s general manager, sees the greatest activity in the space industry. He says, “It’s a very dynamic area, with major developments still to be made in terms of increased power, surface mounted components, MMIC, circulator-isolator-limiter assemblies for phased array antenna modules and systems integration.”

He identifies ferrite devices for the telecommunication market as a technology that will stimulate the market. He states, “This is a fast moving sector, where manufacturers must develop innovative technologies to stay competitive.”

Geographically the company has identified numerous opportunities in the Asian and India region and has recently opened a sales office in Shanghaï in order develop local contacts with global manufacturers. Genin sees these emerging countries as a major driving force particularly in the communications market, citing the example of wireless technologies and the continued effort to strive for greater capacity and larger bandwidths. There is also growth in RF for automotive applications.

In his opinion geopolitics is a major driving force and identifies the Galileo global positioning programme as being particularly significant when he says, “The European decision to recover their autonomy and to develop their own earth observation systems, distinct from the American GPS has an impact in manufacturing. Today, all European manufacturers want to take part in this new development.”

As for the future, Genin feels that the latest simulation tools for designing RF and microwave components and sub-systems means the company can access new R&D fields to achieve the three key objectives of space saving, power handling capability and low cost design. New materials are key points to meet these challenges; for example, SiC for semiconductors can be a solution for high power diodes or transistors, which can operate under extremely high temperatures. Also, plastic, ceramic or carbon fibre materials remain alternative solutions to the metallic case when low cost products are needed.


The company manufactures GaAs integrated components based on 0.25 and 0.5 Ωm pHEMT technology. The semiconductor products are manufactured on 6 inch wafers and are available in die form or packaged in a range of industry standard outlines. Both standard products and an open foundry service are offered. Also, using its proprietary MMIC process the company also designs and manufactures point to point microwave radio link transceivers and diplex filters for wireless backhaul in telecommunications systems.

Currently, most activity is in the cellular market sector, specifically multi-throw switches for handsets, discrete transistors, MMIC components and P2P transceivers for wireless infrastructure applications. This is driven by the high demand for mobile handsets in both developing countries and in developed countries due to 3G upgrades. WiMAX is an emerging market where 3.5 GHz MMIC solutions for CPE and infrastructure applications are offered. Traditionally the company also serves the defence market with integrated components for both EW and radar applications.

Technologically the cellular handset area is currently where the greatest activity is being seen and Filtonic’s Wolfgang Bosch, CTO Filtronic ICS, UK, comments, “Increased complexity and functionality (multi-band, WLAN, WiFi, WiMAX, etc.) is driving the insertion of multi-throw GaAs switches into handset front-end power modules. In parallel with this is the fact that the overall cellular market continues to grow having a positive knock-on effect on the wireless infrastructure and the P2P businesses.”

He also sees increasing demand for higher integrated GaAs MMIC solutions, switches for handsets and also for higher frequency microwave and millimetre-wave applications, together with low cost mm-wave packaging solutions.

Commenting on the geographical focus of activity Bosch says, “We continue to see the majority of the handset design work conducted in the US or EMEA with manufacturing being contracted out worldwide. In relation to the P2P business, the greatest activity is in the Asia Pacific and East European regions where cellular infrastructure is the optimum solution to interconnect mobile base stations. This is due to minimal existing fibre optic/ leased line infrastructure and also the large distances that need to be covered. Also, Taiwan is very active at present in the WiMAX market.”

With regards to new technologies and how they can help to stimulate the market, Bosch sees GaAs pHEMT technology as absolutely essential for today’s and future handset front-end modules. He sees the increased functionality in cell phones and the roll out of the next generation communication networks (3G, 4G, WiMAX, etc.) resulting in a higher demand for GaAs. A key factor being the performance and cost advantage modern GaAs technology offers the communication market.

He explains, “Developing countries are extremely cost sensitive due to the low average revenue per user compared with developed countries. This translates to price pressure on equipment both in terms of acquisition and operating costs. The new technologies are stimulating demand by enabling significant price reduction, by increasing product reliability and through MMIC integration. Additionally the higher performance of new GaAs technology is enabling software configurable broadband links to be implemented at significantly lower cost points. This enables operators to upgrade the capacity of the network through software control without the need to replace the installed radio equipment.”

The communications industry is also identified as being a major driving force due to the desire for increased data capacity and converged services, which is set to continue with initiatives such as WiMAX extending broadband coverage to laptops and similar terminals in a roaming environment.


The development and manufacture of RF technology products are the company’s core activities and its product range includes RF-coaxial connectors in all common worldwide standards — SMP, Mini-SMP, MCX, SMA, N, 7-16, BNC, TNC, etc. — automotive connectors, test and measurement products such as precision connectors, test adaptors, test cables, calibration kits and attenuators, while cable assemblies are also available. In its recently established Wireless Terminal Components business unit Rosenberger offers spring loaded pins, adaptors and micro-RF test switches for wireless applications, mainly in consumer electronics or mobile phone terminal applications.

Key sectors of current activity include connectivity solutions for controlled impedance high speed data transmission, RF board to board connections, coaxial surface mount technology and, of course, the miniaturisation of components and systems.

The company’s stated target is to develop RF products for a variety of stateof-the-art applications in all sectors of the electronics market. And in the future, it perceives the main fields of application to be in telecommunication, infotainment electronics and automotive electronics, along with aviation and military electronics and medical electronics.

Geographically the company envisages the fastest growing markets to be in Asia, particularly in China and India, but it will also focus on key-account customers in the European and American markets. Technologically, the view is that the need for higher data rates in communication applications will stimulate the development of components and systems, which will be a major driving force.

The company takes environmental issues particularly seriously in its effort to continuously improve and optimize all manufacturing processes to offer maximum benefit to its customers. This quality responsibility includes being proactive in protecting the environment and natural resources, through endeavouring to avoid or minimize environmental pollution beyond the requirements of legal regulations. It specifically avoids or limits the use of hazardous substances such as lead, mercury, cadmium and others.

In the next few years Rosenberger expects that an important challenge that the RF and microwave industry will face, but which will also provide opportunities, is the merger of telecom and infotainment applications. Alongside, it expects to see: additional system integration, e.g. planar to coaxial transition systems and connectivity system solutions.


Sector overview by ECWT Chairman, Dr. Richard Ranson

The record number of technical paper submissions for the 9th European Conference on Wireless Technology, with roughly half from within Europe and half elsewhere reflects the international activity in the sector. Particularly encouraging is to see contributions from traditionally strong telecommunications nations such as the US as well as emerging growth countries such as Korea and China.

Submissions to the ECWT technical programme closely mirror industrial and academic research and development efforts in wireless technology and while previously it has been synonymous with mobile phone technology, this year sees significant diversification where advances in high frequency electronics are now being applied to other distinct wireless communications applications and services. The whole range of wireless communications is in the spotlight, from the antenna, through microwave or mmwave circuits for both transmitters and receivers to demodulation and coding.

To highlight specific areas where there is particular activity, there is intensive interest in the areas of filters and antennas, where the challenge is to achieve smaller size, without compromising performance. Of the several promising avenues of interest, those involving new materials and novel structures to achieve the required size/performance are exciting. There is also a clear focus on integration, where removing various interfaces and connections achieves the dual goals of minimising cost and maximising the use of whatever space is available

Another broad topic that continues to attract significant work is power amplifiers and linearization techniques. Novel and interesting device and circuit ideas are being developed to meet the challenges of power, linearity and efficiency applicable to all areas of wireless communications. Also, the latest developments in UWB, WiFi, WiMAX (802.16d/e), MIMO and 3G HSDPA /HSUPA are promising to deliver the broadband connectivity required to truly realise the multimedia dream at home and ‘on the go’. Other growing areas of interest include location technologies (e.g. GPS), UWB, telemetry, telematics and cognitive radio.

2006 is projected to be the year for mobile TV and video with big announcements recently from the major handset vendors and operators planning trials and commercial roll-outs based upon DVB-H, DAB/DMB, MediaFlo and MBMS technologies. These trials have been ongoing around Europe and a good deal of useful technical and commercial data is starting to appear.

ECWT demonstrates that there is clearly continued progress in established topics where the primary emphasis is on mobile phone systems. Fuelled by that technology base and the resulting low cost of components from that industry there are a growing number of new ideas and applications coming to the fore.


Huber + Suhner

In the wireless sector the company’s activities are concentrated mainly on antennas, be they picocell for cellular (2G, 3G+), WiFi, RFID, WiMAX or Dect, as well as the SL60, 60 GHz point to point radio. For all of these the company makes coaxial cables and connectors as well as for all kinds of communication applications in the commercial and defence sectors.

In particular the company is witnessing tremendous growth in the WiMAX market as it sees this new standard offering an alternative means of broadband access for consumers and therefore a way for smaller ISPs to compete with Telcos, generating movement in the marketplace. It sees real demand behind the hype surrounding WiMAX and is supporting customers with a full range of products — BTS antennas, CPE antennas, high gain point to point antennas, cables and connectors.

The company also supplies a specialized antenna portfolio for the RFID, UHF-RFID market, where the momentum to implement this technology is coming both from global shipping applications and in the retail supply chain. Both WiMAX and RFID are seen as having the ability to stimulate the market.

H+S’s operation is global, depending on the product/technology deployed, but traditionally its main activities are in North America and Europe, with communications as a key driver.

As for many, environmental and political issues are impacting on the company. Although, as it is a passive component manufacturer, the RoHS was never a big challenge it is concerned about ever increasing raw material costs combined with political decisions like China limiting the supply of copper. The consequence being that it might again be more effective to manufacture in the Western hemisphere, close to the consumer.

Finally, over the next few years H+S believes that new software solutions, convergence, triple play and the use of IP (VoIP) will fuel the demand for broadband communication solutions and implementation.


The company needs no introduction as the global market leader in mobile devices and smartphones and additionally its wireless products include base stations for cellular systems. Its main activities are in the development of next generation products for these markets but it is noteworthy that Nokia is also developing its own GSM/ WCDMA chipset for its terminals.

The communications market is the company’s focus, and with its combined mobile device volume in 2005 totalling 265 million units, helped by the excellent combination of power efficiency, miniaturization and performance in its mobile terminals, it is likely to remain so. Specific developmental activities are focused on antenna miniaturization and more configurable modem architectures targeting multiradio.

The market in which Nokia operates is fast moving and dynamic with manufacturers needing to be ahead of the game to develop those technologies that will fuel future market growth. Among those that the company has identified as being of particular importance are solutions for wireless broadband and multiradio including nanometer-scale CMOS-optimized RF and more power efficient heterogeneous BB processors, along with antenna miniaturization techniques.

Explaining in more detail, Petteri Alinikula, head of strategic research, Nokia Research Centre, says, “Architecture innovations are resulting from new technologies, which lead to cost, size and power reductions and therefore improvements in product competitiveness. For example, in wireless access implementation there have been several major technology steps during the last 15 years of cellular phone development, which have led to major improvements in miniaturization, integration and functionality.

“The next step is to take full advantage of the nanometer scale CMOStechnology in the RF front-end. Just mapping the traditional RF circuits to CMOS is not an optimum solution. With nanometer-scale CMOS it becomes practical to integrate extremely complex control and calibration circuitry with the RF circuits. The previous challenges in controlling parameter variations for optimum performance become easier to manage. On the other hand the traditional on-chip large passives, inductors and capacitors, become critically expensive. Consequently, new technology introduces new opportunities for the next step in architecture innovations.”

The power management challenge is seen as being just as critical. Alinikula confides, “The fundamentally unique feature in small hand portable devices is energy economics. In small form factors the energy storage is very constrained. The energy capacity of batteries has grown at the rate of about 10 percent annually and no new technologies that would increase the energy density significantly faster are in sight. Moreover, the power consumption becomes constrained, because a certain size can only dissipate a limited amount of heat.

“Thus, maximum power levels depend on the heat dissipation characteristics for different device form factors and surface materials. As an example, the power budget for a small form factor hand portable with plastic covers is about 3 W. Accordingly, it is evident that heat dissipation capability is limiting the overall set of multimedia functionalities in the terminal. None of the subsystems is dominating the power consumption. Therefore, we need power management locally in all subsystems including the radios and system level global power management. It is clear that in the wireless domain, we need to continuously hunt for power savings.”


Sector overview by EuMIC Chairman, Steve Marsh

As has been much publicised, 2006 heralds the inauguration of the European Microwave Integrated Circuits conference at European Microwave Week, which carries on from the highly successful GAAS® symposia. As its name suggests it will be focusing on all microwave integrated circuits based on any semiconductor technology from silicon, silicon germanium, through gallium arsenide, to gallium nitride, indium phosphide and beyond.

So, what are the major developments in this field? In terms of the semiconductor technology itself, we can expect to see silicon RFICs with SiGe transistors continuing to eat into the traditional GaAs MMIC market place but there is also an interesting counterpoint beginning to develop. In January Freescale Semiconductor Inc. announced that they had produced complete MOSFET transistors. This may just be a small step but both the Semiconductor Research Corp. and the computer processor giants Intel Corp. are actively trying to develop digital CMOS capabilities based on III-V compound semiconductors. When they succeed, GaAs microprocessors, memory and amplifiers will be fighting their way back into wireless systems and producing, for all we know, GaAs-only mobile phones.

Gallium nitride seems to be the other semiconductor technology generating a lot of interest within Europe. There are several large consortia working on this wide bandgap material, some funded by their own governments and others brought together under the European Commissions’ Network of Excellence programmes. These large consortia are now working with extremely good quality material and we are just beginning to see an explosion of publications on GaN MMICs. Their impact on microwave and millimetre-wave power amplifiers for handsets and WLAN will obviously be huge but we may even see GaN chips taking over from LDMOS in base stations as well.

In terms of the businesses attending EuMIC such as the chip foundries and independent design houses, we are just coming to the end of a phase of MMIC capacity contraction and restructuring. The ITAR export restrictions have given the European businesses a small boost as the rest of the world seeks to obtain replacements for US chips in their developing systems from established European sources. The restrictions have also helped to accelerate the investment and development of semiconductor foundries within Asia, and as we see more and more facilities developed in India, Malaysia, Korea and China it will not be long before Asia’s capacity will outstrip both Europe and the US. It’s just as well then that the European Commission’s NoEs are achieving their targets of grouping European business into pan-European partnerships so we can compete within this changing market.

In terms of growing applications for MMICs, we are seeing resurgence in activity in mm-wave and terahertz technology for several security system applications. Integration is a key driver to bring down system costs if they are ever to become commercial realities. One example is the need for multiplier and mixer functions on a single MMIC at 90 to 270 GHz, which may be possible sooner than you think with foundries favouring MHEMT as the way forward for InP MMIC progression.



Established in 1974, this privately owned UK company’s main activities in the microwave integrated circuits/semiconductor field revolve around RF power transistors, which it supplies to both commercial and military markets.

It is active in the US, Europe and the Far East, so has global reach, while technologically its goal is to strive for higher power, higher linearity, higher gain, lower thermal impedance, new packages, etc.

Dr. John Walker, RF Division Manager at Semelab, elaborates, “Technology isn’t a driver in this market per se, customers are very astute and will only use new technology if it offers a clear benefit in terms of lower cost, better reliability, better RF performance, etc. However, this has to be allied to longterm commitment to maintain supply, immediate availability of product, full and comprehensive data sheets that don’t change with time, etc.”

With regards to the major driving forces on the microwave industry he says that they are always changing but that right now they are the likes of homeland security, digital broadcast, the new generation of military radios, and PMR.

He believes that environmental or political issues have a definite impact on modern manufacturing saying, “ROHS is a good example of both environmental and political forces driving changes in manufacturing. Also, there is a desire on the part of many organisations to lessen dependence on US technology due to export restrictions.”

As for what will fuel growth in the microwave integrated circuits/semiconductor industry over the next few years, Dr. Walker’s opinion is that wide bandgap technology will have a significant impact in certain applications such as ultra wideband amplifiers.

United Monolithic Semiconductors

UMS is a III/V foundry offering a foundry service, catalogue products and ASICs. With its wide portfolio it serves various markets including telecommunications, focussing on microwave links (backbones) and high millimetre-wave applications. In the automotive sector the company covers 24, 77 and 79 GHz applications. On the military side it provides customers worldwide with products for applications in ground radars, active antennas, EW, communications, etc. It also serves the global space market and the ISM sector, mainly with sensors.

Particular areas of activity at present are in telecommunication, which is continuing to be lucrative following a very good year in 2005 and in the military arena where the company is involved in numerous major programmes. Geographically, the company’s main customers are Europe and the US but it sees the shift to Asia being inevitable and ongoing if not as fast as perhaps was first expected.

Considering technological developments, Pierre Quentin, product marketing manager at UMS, comments, “2006 is the year for GaN to emerge. There is great R&D activity all around the world and the first products are coming onto the market. We have decided to follow this trend and believe that 2009 will be key for millimetrewave products.”

He also cites the emergence of the high band gap materials, such as GaN, that will facilitate higher power and better performance tradeoffs in terms of linearity, PAE, robustness, etc. Significant too are the silicon-based technologies such as the SiGe that are moving towards very high frequencies. Quentin comments, “In the coming years the microwave community will have to face huge changes brought about by these new technologies, but the GaAs PMHEMT will continue to serve these market for a long while yet.”

Quentin sees certain sectors seeing significant activity and says, “What is coming to the fore, riding on the never ending need for higher bit rates, is the provision of communication to the enduser segment (e.g. 60 GHz LAN) which will grab the attention of the consumer. The same is true for the automotive market, with huge pressure currently on 24 GHz sensors, which will very soon transfer to 77 GHz and maybe 79 GHz ones. Today, high specification cars are equipped with microwaves sensors, but soon it will be the case for all cars as quantities enter the more affordable consumer range.”

For the future he sees consolidation of GaAs PM-HEMT, as a mature technology, with proven volume capabilities in production, with developments directed towards reducing the gate length to improve the performance, while emerging technologies such as GaN and SiGe will have a part to play.


Sector overview by EuRAD Chairman, Patrick Beasley

Since its inception in 2004 the EuRAD conference has gone from strength to strength with a record number of papers being submitted, demonstrating a thriving European radar community. It is also an indicator of activity geographically, so it is worth noting the significant representation from the Newly Independent States, most notably Ukraine, alongside the established West European countries.

The most significant recent trend in radar development has been the convergence between radar and communications techniques and technologies. This has been driven by the ability to design low power, solid state, CWtype radars taking advantage of low cost microwave components, up to Iband and beyond, together with the availability of high throughput, low cost signal processing capabilities, including optical signal processing which facilitate digital beamforming and space-time processing.

Radars are being developed that exploit communications techniques including MIMO transceivers, OFDM and ultra-wideband. In particular, the improvement in ADC sampling speeds and increase in the number of bits has moved the digitisation stage closer to the radar front end where dynamic range requirements are more demanding. Additionally, Direct Digital Synthesis (DDS) has provided a means to create waveforms of choice and facilitates coherent radar operation with the corresponding benefits of improved detection, simultaneous range/Doppler processing and clutter rejection.

There has also been a significant improvement in microwave and millimetrewave oscillator sources in terms of ultra low phase noise and improved frequency stability which, again, facilitates coherent radar operation. Phase-locked DROs and low cost VCOs developed for communications applications are replacing traditional sources and there is a demand for increased radar bandwidth for improved range resolution, particularly for surveillance radars, and for low peak transmit powers. This highlights the importance of spectrum sharing and the use of ‘orthogonal’ waveforms to prevent interference.

Developments in millimetre-wave radar have accelerated in recent years with the availability of relatively low cost components developed for automotive radar and point to point communications and a rapid increase in demand for passive millimetre-wave imaging for security applications. These radars are finding niche applications such as runway debris monitoring, radar level sensing, high resolution imaging and robotics.

The concern about the environment has lead to significant research into radar remote sensing of the atmosphere from space, airborne and land-based platforms. This provides meteorological and hydrological information and the information can also be used to assist in aviation safety. Advances in polarimetric SAR are key to achieving this aim and there are significant research efforts currently being carried out in France, The Netherlands and Ukraine.

In the field of radar antennas the most exciting research is being carried out into conformal antennas, the use of metamaterials and plasma antennas. There is significant development into sparse antenna arrays which share common techniques with the radio astronomy community.


EADS Defence Electronics

As the Sensors, EW and Avionics House of EADS, the Defence Electronics Business Unit unites the sensor technologies for airborne, naval and groundbased platforms, providing components and subsystems based on the latest radar and electronic warfare technologies. It also develops and manufactures avionics systems as well as electronics for land-based defence systems.

In the microwave radar field the whole operational spectrum of multifunction fire control radars is covered — stand-off and penetrating surveillance and reconnaissance radars and navigation and terrain-following radars. Based on these products synthetic aperture radars, special purpose radars, seeker radars and multi-sensor integration are offered.

Specifically the company is addressing the future demand for sensors, electronic warfare and countermeasures, and communications generated by the movement towards a network-centric, information-driven operational environment. Dr. Hans Brugger, vice president, Equipment Engineering and Microwave Technologies, EADS Defence Electronics, comments, “The demand for products incorporating microwave technologies will increase significantly although the boundary of the analogue-to-digital conversion for antennas is moving closer.”

He also believes that for radar, microwave based sensors, with their ability to cope with all-weather conditions both day and night, will continue to be the information gathering technique of the future, while in more advanced versions they will be backed by electro-optical sensors, imaging and lasers.

Brugger also states, “Microwave technologies will most probably be boosted by active array radars, namely Active Electronically Scanned Antenna (AESA) systems. The replacement of a tube amplifier by solid state technology, i.e. an array made up of hundreds to thousands of discrete transmit/ receive modules using analogue integrated circuits (MMICs). Such radar sensors will provide significant performance improvements in terms of better range and target classification. The system also has maintenance life cycle cost benefits as the failure of single T/R modules would only marginally degrade radar performance.”

He identifies significant industrial activity with regards to novel T/R-module packaging concepts, multi-functional integrated MMICs based on GaAs PHEMT and HBT technologies, ASICs on Si and SiGe. GaN is seen as an enabling technology for future robust amplifiers suitable mainly for high operating voltage, very high power and broadband purposes. Brugger says, “A modular architecture is necessary which allows higher levels of integration, reduced size, lower weight, and management of significant thermal budget.”

He continues, “An integrated T/Rmodule design approach taking into account all relevant chip functionalities is necessary to achieve a components spread tolerant design for automated assembly and intelligent testing. Due to the dominant material cost a high first pass yield is mandatory during volume fabrication otherwise the cost target goals will not be achieved during the production phase. In this field the defence industry has to master the production of complex high-end components on a large scale as is the case in the telecom and automotive industry.”

As for the future Brugger believes, “For the microwave industry the major driving forces will come from the active array radar and EW systems business, mainly due to transmit/receive modules and complex wide-band components, in that order. Likewise, the active phased array antenna technology will bring significant MMIC components business.”


Dating back to the 1930s, the Observation System Business Unit continues to experience significant growth in the area of military and space borne radar systems as well as commercial ones. In TNO’s new organization, the vast majority of the observation system activities reside within TNO Defence, Security and Safety.

The company observes a trend towards low cost, flexible radar systems that can be developed in a relatively short time for low NRE costs. FMCW is becoming more and more feasible in a wide range of applications including very low cost systems for traffic control applications for example, but also in synthetic aperture radars and in more complex military radars. The global international developments such as home and border security and coalition peace force operations require new radar architectures and fusion with a range of other sensors (optical cameras, IR, AIS, ESM) with an almost plug-and-play capability in various kinds of networks.

TNO’s Dr. Frank van Vliet comments, “As a result, communication aspects are becoming more and more important and are thus increasingly being included as part of the radar. Simultaneous use of radar and communication waveforms becomes a feasible option. We believe future radars are based on modular, scalable and open architectures, which can only be achieved in a wide European initiative.”

He also sees a trend for the continuing decrease in the cost of the microwave part of the sensor systems, mainly due to the III-V semiconductor manufacturing business maturing further as the playing field becomes truly global. van Vliet confides, “European technologies seem to be particularly well positioned, offering high-performance technology at ever decreasing prices. Bare-die approaches seem to find smaller and smaller niches, driven for a large part by consumer market plastic-type packages.”

He continues, “At the system level, the application of mixed-signal SiGe technology into the radar’s front end leads to an emerging new generation of radar systems — SiGe is not replacing III-V semiconductors but is bringing very new radar architectures within reach. Major breakthroughs in very cost-effective radar systems as well as in highly digitized radar systems are a matter of sustained development only.”

van Vliet considers that at the component and sub-system level, threats of increased vulnerability to export limitations on systems employing US ITAR restricted components lead to a noticeable increase in the quest for alternative or second-sources, mainly in the military and the space borne radar domain. He believes that the competition to existing US component solutions is stimulated strongly by the ITAR, with programmes put in place in these domains by the respective governments.

As for the future, a renewed debate is expected around the application of RF CMOS versus BiCMOS technologies to microwave front ends; in order to circumvent the traditional problems with advanced CMOS in the noise floor and operating voltage (i.e., the dynamic range) by employing intelligent design techniques. van Vliet adds, “With the cost and capabilities associated with these technologies, even more challenging architectures will be serious implementation candidates.”

At the radiator level, a shift in the R&D activities over the coming years is expected from current wideband activities into compact-oriented design techniques, combined with relatively low cost materials. Design techniques optimizing performance without affecting manufacturing cost will remain to be widely pursued.


Those are the views of those operating in and from Europe but does the ‘outside world’ share similar views? In the wider scheme of things is Europe a lucrative market for global RF and microwave manufacturers? Is it ripe for investment? Is there potential for growth? And are there barriers to trade? To answer these questions we took a small snapshot of companies from across the globe. It is not claimed to be a comprehensive survey but is designed to give an ‘outside looking in’ perspective of how the European microwave industry and market is viewed worldwide. This report cannot comprehensively cover a large number of companies. However, it has canvassed companies in North America and Asia — Japan, Korea and China — to offer a contrast of established and evolving industries, household names and new market entrants.


North America


In the RF and microwave field the company’s main focus is on the design and manufacture of RF, microwave and mm-wave components and assemblies for commercial, military and space applications. Current areas being targeted for development are emerging commercial wireless markets such as advanced cellular infrastructure, WiMAX and RFID in addition to selected military applications. In particular the company is investing in the development of RFID components and systems, telemetry transmitters/data links and mm-wave UWB sensors.

The company brings its wide breadth of products and more than 50 years experience in RF/microwave technologies, along with large quantity RF/microwave manufacturing capabilities to the European marketplace. To specifically address the European market M/A-COM works with leading wireless OEM’s to design custom solutions and standard products for emerging wireless markets. As well as being active in the established markets of the UK, Italy and France the company is also witnessing growth in Eastern Europe.

Elaborating, Patrick Hindle of M/ACOM comments, “We think there are opportunities in the Eastern European countries that do not have well established wireless communication systems as an area of growth. We only participate in this growth through supplying components to the major European OEMs. There are also opportunities to expand our aerospace and defence business in the UK, Italy and France with our high performance RF and microwave components, antennas and cables.”

Particularly in Europe, mm-wave sensors and lower cost integrated solutions are seen as technologies that will stimulate the current markets and enable new applications. Hindle explains, “We are designing lower cost microwave sensors for new applications. These include short range automotive sensors — back up alarms, blind spot warning, collision avoidance, parking assist, etc. — with the potential for new applications such as security and automation.”

The company is expanding its portfolio of rugged, miniature telemetry transmitters beyond projectile applications to other high performance areas such as aircraft stress testing, UAV data communications and industrial monitoring applications.

The RFID market is also a target. Hindle proffers “We see opportunities for RFID reader components and RFID systems, so are designing integrated RF components for reducing RFID reader cost and size while improving performance. At the same time, we are leveraging our RF technology to supply completely integrated antenna and reader stands for turnkey RFID systems. We see the RFID growth coming from supply management solutions first and then expanding into point of sale applications in the future.

Asked to comment on the trends that will influence the European microwave industry over the next few years Hindle singled out integrated MMIC and system-on-chip solutions, which he believes will enable new affordable applications.

TriQuint Semiconductor Inc.

With all of its market core competence within the RF and microwave sector the company’s markets span four major areas: handsets, military, base station and broadband, not forgetting a separate Merchant Foundry business that serves customers in Europe, Asia and the Americas. It is not surprising for this GaAs IC manufacturer that the largest market it operates in is handsets, which accounts for 48 percent of revenue, followed by broadband with 23 percent. The latter includes WLAN and WiMAX, which are growing segments of the wireless business.

As far as its European operations are concerned, three of TriQuint’s largest customers are located in Finland (handsets), Sweden (base stations) and The Netherlands (handsets). It serves many other European countries with products from all of its market segments and one of its largest merchant foundry customers is based in Europe.

One reason why the company prospers in the continent is that some of the world’s largest users of GaAs semiconductors reside in Europe, but perhaps even more important is that, in general, it develops products to specific market needs and customer requirements. For example, the company is one of the most active developers of GSM/EDGE and UMTS RF front-end modules with its new generation of EDGE/GPRS modules being small and highly integrated.

However, TriQuint doesn’t see itself as offering products and services its European counterparts don’t provide but believes it follows a different business paradigm. The company leverages in-house technologies such as GaAs, SAW and BAW to provide product solutions that other companies (European, Asian or American) can’t offer because they don’t have the same technology, or the ability to offer the same degree of high-level integration. This enables it to avoid passing along the ‘stacked margins’ others are forced to deal with due to the lack of one or more essential in-house technology.

It also utilizes its technology to provide high performance components including RF power amplifiers and integrated modules, RF/IF signal filtering, RF switching, integrated passives, and single package RF front-end modules with low part counts.

As for the future the company’s view is that the proliferation and strong growth in personal broadband wireless applications including 3G, WiFi and WiMAX will continue to increase the compound semiconductor component opportunities, while emerging markets such as automotive radar are seen as having the potential to provide the next high volume market for RF and microwave technologies.


Tiger Micro-Electronics Institute

Since its inception in 1991 the company has been a leading producer of quality microwave components and integrated assemblies for the military and commercial markets including the demanding commercial telecommunications infrastructure segment.

Known for its high quality RF and microwave components it offers power dividers, mixers, VCOs, RF amplifiers, couplers, hybrids, filters, rotary joints, isolators, circulators, pin switches and phase shifters in a variety of robust mechanical and interface configurations covering the DC to 18 GHz frequency range. It also utilises its design and manufacturing experience to produce custom designs to customer specifications.

Due to the boom in the cellular and wireless sector the company is particularly active in wireless communication and is taking advantage of the low operating costs of its ISO 9001:2000 certified manufacturing facility to provide competitively priced products to its customers worldwide.

Tiger has been an OEM supplier to North America and Europe for many years, with France, Germany and Italy being key European markets. The company sees itself as having the levers to satisfy the needs of customers, be it in terms of meeting specific frequency requirements of a country or region or through offering fast delivery and flexible customisation to meet individual needs. The latter is particularly pertinent to military customers.


NTT Advanced Technology

Describing itself as a ‘technology integrator’ NTT-AT was established exactly 30 years ago. Since then it has drawn on its technical expertise, product development skills and know-how to create products and services that are based on leading edge research and development at the NTT Laboratories. The advent of the multimedia age caused the business to expand rapidly and it now covers almost the entire range of information and telecommunications technologies, including a variety of research/consulting services, sales of new products and system/ network integration services based on state-of-the-art technologies.

The RF and microwave field is mainly served by the Nanotechnology and Materials Division. It offers expertise in the most advanced technologies shaping the future of broadband communications, from electronic devices to microfabrication and thin-film deposition technologies, and materials analysis.

There is significant activity focused on the field of III-V epitaxial wafers (InP, GaAs, GaN) for high speed electronic devices and RF-MEMS technology and nanotechnology with research and development for electronic and optical devices being at the forefront.

NTT-AT believes that in this increasingly competitive world, companies must take a hard look at issues such as how to create new markets and how to develop and introduce competitive products and technologies. To this end it intends to utilise its cuttingedge technologies and expertise to actively seek alliances with top high tech companies around the globe.

Europe-wide it intends not only to focus on high tech companies but also on research and development organizations and universities and believes that its products can support new technologies for the next generation mobile telecommunication and optical fibre telecommunication.

The company feels that, in particular, it can bring to the European market leading edge III-V epitaxial wafers for high speed electronic devices, especially GaN epitaxial wafers on various substrates. It also sees the future as demanding high efficiency and low power consumption devices and components.



Primarily targeting the wired and wireless telecommunication and broadcasting markets for its active RF components and modules, the company’s strength is in providing solutions for applications below 5 GHz. All processes, products and services emanate from one facility providing good quality control and high reliability at low cost, with the ability to mass produce various high frequency components for the base station, repeater, cable network, digital TV, medical, optical and test equipment markets. It provides solutions from MMIC to hybrids and using its own components and design capability produces low cost, high performance custom developed modules and subsystems.

Currently the focus is on providing a full solution for WiMAX applications, offering MMICs, transistors, hybrids and power amplifier modules for both 2.5 and 3.6 GHz WiMAX applications. The company believes that the potential for WiMAX to combine standard wireless communications, fixed and mobile, in a broadband format for increased penetration for various commercial applications will increase the average selling price for service providers, which is the biggest selling point for equipment manufacturers.

The company has identified a market for medium sized, pallet type power amplifiers aimed at BTS and other infrastructure system manufacturers. Currently under development and soon to be released are 75 and 140 W power amplifier pallets for 3.6 GHz WiMAX applications with plans for lower frequency devices to follow.

As for its activities in Europe it operates in the major countries including Germany and France, along with Scandinavian counties and many in Eastern Europe. Its customers in Western Europe tend to be the larger companies, with the military oriented being dominant. In Eastern Europe although its customers tend to be smaller, specialized manufacturers operating in various markets they are usually leaders in their region. The intention is for RFHIC to use its strong customised development capabilities, representative network and new devices and products to target smaller leading companies in specific local markets.

As a component manufacturer, the company designs components depending on frequencies and believes that with coverage from DC to 5 GHz its active devices and modules for the mass communication market hold a strong position in all of the major commercial markets, including Europe. RFHIC is also building hybrids and modules using GaN technology, which with its high breakdown voltage, wide bandwidth and high output power at higher frequencies is well suited for WiMAX applications. Significantly, European customers are some of the first to apply this technology because many infrastructure system manufacturers are located there.

RFHIC believes that it can utilise its design knowledge to provide creative hybrid solutions and modules to European customers as rising costs and price pressures from the service providers mean system manufacturers must look for low cost yet high quality alternatives.

As for the future the company is taking a keen interest in which telecommunication technology comes to the fore. It believes 3G technology is definitely going to move up and 4G will enter the market but feels it will be interesting to see which technology is better poised for mobile and fixed wireless broadband internet. However, it is putting its faith in WiMAX to meet the demands of the European market.


The European microwaves market is a complex web of interdependencies between highly specialist component manufacturers, subsystem manufacturers and large scale equipment contractors and this article is not intended to provide a definitive analysis. Its intention is to give an insight into current activity, an understanding of the marketplace and identify future trends. This report began with three questions, so in essence what are the answers?

First, one of the realities of globalisation is the low cost mass production competition emanating from Asia and other emerging countries. To some degree Eastern Europe, with its cheaper labour and overheads, can compete and can be supported by mutually beneficial cross-European partnerships. However, as a whole, Europe’s strengths lie elsewhere, predominantly in value added products and research and technological development. It has the skills, expertise and academic infrastructure to take a lead and profit from the opportunities that globalisation offers for growth in existing markets and for conquering new ones.

To do so means ensuring that technological developments and innovations are commercially viable with the structures in place to take them to market and make the most of their earning potential. The European Union is united on these issues and is implementing its strategy to deliver growth, competitiveness and employment. Its main medium for achieving this is the EU Framework Programmes, which identify key areas of R&D and organise and fund specific pan-European collaborative projects. Through the Networks of Excellence Programmes the RF and microwave sector has been a particular beneficiary and as the 6th FP makes way for the 7th this looks set to continue. This Europe-wide cooperative and collaborative ethos is coming more to the fore and reaping benefits. It is epitomised by the Galileo Project to create Europe’s own global positioning service that is stimulating investment and technological advancement.

Finally, the depth and variety of the research and development work currently being undertaken does not make it easy to identify future technological trends. However, in the RF and microwave sector leading edge work is focusing on microsystems and nanosystems, while applications of higher frequencies in the mm-wave and terahertz ranges are also being examined. In the wireless technologies field high frequency electronics are being applied to distinct wireless communication applications other than mobile telephony as the demand for multimedia access and infotainment grows. For semiconductor technology silicon RFICs with SiGe will continue to eat into the GaAs MMIC market, while gallium nitride is generating great interest. But keep a watch on the development of digital CMOS capabilities based on III-V compound semiconductors. In the radar sector we will continue to see convergence between radar and communications techniques and technologies and developments in mm-wave radar finding wider applications.


The author would like to thank the EuMW and conference chairmen and company executives who shared their in depth knowledge and expertise. Their contributions have given a rare insight into the microwave industry from those working at the forefront of academia and industry.