Filtronic plc has reached the notable milestone of a decade manufacturing transceivers for E-Band backhaul radio links and shipping more than 50,000 units.
The wide bandwidth of E-Band spectrum, in two segments from 71 to 76 and 81 to 86 GHz, offers network operators high capacity backhaul, midhaul and fronthaul links — collectively known as Xhaul — particularly important with the higher data rates of 5G networks.
Market research firm Dell’Oro estimated the global market for E-Band transceivers at 83,000 in 2018, around 7 percent of the wireless links then being installed. The firm sees demand growing at more than 35 percent per year, forecasting shipments to reach some 370,000 units by 2023.
“When we first developed our Proteus transceiver modules 10 years ago, E-Band was an attractive but challenging new technology for backhaul applications, offering a much higher data rate than had been possible in the traditional licensed microwave bands," said Dan Rhodes, director of mmWave business development at Filtronic.
“Since then, the use of E-Band links for backhaul, and more recently for fronthaul and midhaul, has grown rapidly. Most recently, this has been fueled by the deployment of 5G networks, where more than 50 percent of the cells are being backhauled by wireless links rather than fiber.”
Rhodes said Filtronic developed a highly integrated and pre-calibrated architecture, enabling the transceiver to be dropped in between the baseband modem board and the antenna. This enabled “an extremely rapid time to market for our clients.”
In February (2020), Filtronic launched its latest generation of E-Band mmWave transceiver modules, called Morpheus II. In July, the firm shipped its 50,000th transceiver — cumulative shipments of the Proteus and successors Theseus, Orpheus and Morpheus II. Filtronic’s cumulative E-Band transceiver shipments have doubled over the last 18 months and continue to increase at a similar compound growth rate.
With a compact form factor, the Morpheus II modules are suitable for many Xhaul applications. Their reconfigurable architecture supports applications other than radio links, such as high altitude pseudo-satellites and ultra-high capacity track-to-train links. Systems with Filtronic’s E-Band transceiver technology have successfully demonstrated data rates to 40 Gbps.