Monday, January 3, 2011

Pat's Predictions for 2011

Last year was my first year of predictions for the RF and microwave industry. So what are my predictions for 2011 and how did I do last year?

2011 Industry predictions:

  1. Tunable devices and circuits like RF MEMS and switched capacitor banks will be adopted in cell phones and alleviate some of the antenna reception issues that plagued phones like the iPhone 4.
  2. Smart Grid applications will take off this year with ISM and Zigbee wireless applications being widely implemented around the world.
  3. LTE will dominate the 4G networks as it is implemented around the world and zooms past WiMAX in deployments.
  4. Femtocells, WiFi and other shorter range wireless technologies will be implemented to get around cellular dead spots instead of just deploying more basestations to fill in coverage.
  5. Metamaterials will start to be used in real world devices for filters and other passive devices (maybe even radar cloaking for the military).
  6. Adaptive/Cognitive radar and commnication systems will go into real development programs.
  7. Millimeterwave frequency solutions will dominate the new backhaul and satellite communications deployments.
  8. SOI and SOS based switches will start taking market share from the traditional dominant GaAs markets.
  9. The confusion of the definition of 4G technologies will continue while someone will define and start using the term 5G.
  10. Microwave applications will see significant use in medical technologies to enhance cures for diseases such as cancer.

And here are my 2010 Predictions and Outcomes:

  1. The US Gov’t Broadband Initiative Stimulus money will be slow to come but even with the many hundreds of millions given out, it will have little or no affect on rural broadband access penetration (see our Oct 09 article on the Broadband Stimulus Program) - I would say this was right as millions were poured into the Broadband Initiative but it seemed to have little effect on market penetration.
  2. LDMOS and GaN will gain major market share in the power product applications and become the leading materials for high power applications in their respective frequency sweet spots (see our June 09 article on the Power Brokers) - I think this was pretty close as LDMOS has dominated the basestation and lower frequency high power products in several areas and GaN has taken a significant hold in many new military and other high power markets.
  3. We will see some control components integrated on GaN MMICs (i.e. switches, limiters, etc.) - I am doing well as at least 2 suppliers (Cree and TriQuint) released GaN switch products (See the end of the Nov cover story on Switches) so this one is also correct.
  4. Nonlinear characterization advancements in the last couple of years will take hold in the marketplace as widely accepted techniques (X-parameters, S-functions, etc.) - Well, I don't think this was totally correct as these new techniques did become more widely known, but I not sure how widely used that are but this year should complete the task. We plan on trying to have a panel session on this subject at IMS 2011.
  5. Several amplifiers with greater than 80% efficiency above 1 GHz will be developed as new high efficiency design techniques are exploited - This goes along with the previous prediction and while there are several examples of power amps over 60 and 70% efficiency, I could not find any over 80%. Have you seen any?
  6. LTE will make large gains in deployments but not come close to exceeding WiMAX in the number of users (in 2011 I predict LTE will overtake WiMAX) - LTE was all the rage in 2010 and will continue to be in 2011 but I was correct that there were far more WiMAX deployments than LTE by the end of 2010. In an ABI report in Dec 2010, it was stated that at the end of 2010, mobile WiMAX will cover about 8% of the world’s population, while LTE will cover about 2%
  7. SoC and SiP solutions will start to take hold in several applications where discrete solutions used to rule (WiFi, GPS, Bluetooth, etc.) - see our Feb 09 article on SoC/SiP - There are several companies supplying single chip solutions for WiFi, Bluetooth and ZigBee so I think this one is mostly correct (TI, RFMD, BroadCom, SiGe, etc.)
  8. Wireless HDTV products will be released into the mass market and one protocol will distance its self as the leading solution of the 4 vying for acceptance (see our Aug 09 article on Wireless HDTV) - This market did not really mature yet (maybe this year) so I think I got this one wrong.
  9. RFID will finally take off and see significant growth in multiple markets including front of the store (POS) applications - Same thing as above prediction so this one was wrong also.
  10. As a result of the terrorists taping into our UAV video signals, new funding and significant resources will be spent on wireless encryption for the US military - This was somewhat true as there was emphasis to improve wireless security but I don't recall any major programs to do it so maybe I was only half correct here.
  11. As a result of the failed terrorist attack on the Detroit bound plane, there will be renewed interest and purchases of mmWave and Terahertz body scanners for airport security - This was a hot topic as several groups and many individuals made a big fuss about going through the mmWave and X-ray scanning machines as they were widely deployed so I got this one correct!
  12. As the military backs off the Future Combat Systems approach as being too expensive, advanced software defined radios will be demonstrated for near future systems - This was somewhat correct but again, I don't recall any major programs in this area so maybe it is only partially correct.
  13. Smart IED jammers will be developed that actively adapt to different frequencies via software control as IED attacks continue to dominate our attention (see our August 08 supplement article on IED Jammers) - I think this one was correct and a new program was just announced that BAE Systems will develop electronic warfare machine learning to jam enemy adaptive communications automatically
  14. A new military broadband satellite communications program will be proposed to ease the capacity crunch for bandwidth (see our August 09 article on the SATCOM Capacity Crunch) - I think this one was wrong as I did not hear about any such programs.

So if you count half points, I got 8 out of 14 correct!

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