Microwave Journal
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Yole

2018, A New Year for RF Front-End Module Market

July 19, 2018

Telecom revolution taking place at the early 21st century has led to impressive innovations, especially at the devices level. “We are today at the first step of 5G implementation,” asserts Paul Leclaire, patent and technology analyst at Knowmade.“5G comes with strong technology challenges that reshuffle the cards and change the competitive landscape.” The RF front-end (RFFE) modules market will be so highly impacted by new 5G standard. According to Yole Développement, it is expected to reach US$35.2 billion in 2023. 

Yole Group of Companies including Knowmade, System Plus Consulting and Yole combine their expertise to propose today a comprehensive analysis of the RFFE industry. They mix their knowledge of the RFFE ecosystem, their understanding of the IP landscape and their analysis of the today’s RF technologies to detail the industry evolution and highlight the technology trends. Yole Group of Companies affirms its market positioning on the RF FE sector with four dedicated reports:

With technology and market, IP, reverse engineering and costing reports in addition to dedicated strategy consulting services, the Yole Group aims to propose a clear understanding of the RFFE industry with relevant answers to the questionings of the industrial leaders. Its How is 5G enabling new business opportunities? Who has the most to win/lose with 5G implementation? What will the impact on the RFFE market? Analysts of the Yole Group of Companies invite you to discover a complete vision of the boiling RFFE world.

RFFE modules market, along with the Wi-Fi connectivity sector, is showing an impressive 14 percent CAGR between 2017 and 2023. The related IP landscape is dominated by the market leaders.

The rapid deployment of Chinese companies with significant R&D activities pushes other players to actively expand and protect their inventions and market. Therefore, IP strategy is critical for insuring the companies a leading market position in the coming years. Knowmade’s team proposes two dedicated patent landscape analyses focused on RF FR industry: "RF Front-End Modules for Cellphones" report and "RF Acoustic Wave Filters" report. Both patent landscapes are detailed on Knowmade corporate website.

“Under a positive evolution, LTE evolution clearly is the first growth wave,” explains Cédric Malaquin, technology and market analyst at Yole. “However most of the market opportunities in the mid-term will come from 5G NSA radio, which became prevalent in late December 2017. Therefore, the need for dual connectivity implies evolution on RFFE architecture and additional components.”

“Not all components will exhibit equal market growth,” adds Claire Troadec, director, Power and Wireless, at Yole. “Filters, which represent the RFFE industry’s biggest market segment, will almost triple from 2017 to 2023.”

Yole’s analysts explain, this growth will come mainly from the significant penetration rate of high-quality BAW filters, which will be required for the ultra-high frequency range defined by 5G NR. Another example is co-existence filters for diversity antenna-sharing with Wi-Fi, since rejection band will be critical. 

LNA market is expected to grow at a 16 percent CAGR with the implementation of the diversity module, along with integration in power amplifier modules for handsets. The switch market will enjoy the same growth due to the addition of a new RF path with 4 x 4 MIMO implementation, which will lead to more diversity switch needs. The antenna tuner market is also expected to record significant growth with 4 x 4 MIMO technology’s penetration. It is worth noting that 4 x 4 MIMO will be mandatory for 5G. PA will be the sole market to remain almost flat over this period. High-end LTE PA market growth, especially in high and ultrahigh band, will compensate for the 2G/3G market’s shrinkage (currently, this market is handled by MMMB PA).

“2018 is a new year for RFFE module suppliers, and a turning point for some smartphone-making OEMs,” announces Dr. Stéphane Elisabeth, project manager at System Plus Consulting. “In 2017, we saw an important choice in adopting PAMiDs that distinguished high-end and mid-range smartphones.” Today, the distinction between these categories is becoming wider as companies work towards 5G wireless communication protocols. High-end OEMs are seeking new ways to integrate more capabilities into one device, which creates space on printed circuit boards for 5G components in the future. 

At the same time, isolation techniques for all front-end communication devices are getting better, in a market with high-quality competitors. System Plus Consulting’s analysts conducted the relevant comparative technology study, RF Front-End Module Comparison, focused on 10 flagship smartphones, 40 front-end modules as well as other RF components. Aim of this study is provide valuable insights and technical data on the technical choices made by the leading smartphones manufacturers and compare integration technologies. 

Yole, Knowmade and System Plus Consulting, all part of Yole Group of companies will attend European Microwave Week (EuMW) from September 23-28 in Madrid, Spain. Yole Group will also present its vision of the RFFE module industry during the RF Electronics session at SEMICON Europa November 13-16 in Munich, Germany.