Monday, April 4, 2011

Active Antenna Markets Projected to Exceed $2 B by 2016

ABI Research released a new report last week that looked interesting to me. They stated that the global market for antennas for wireless infrastructure, including base station, fixed and active types, is set to reach almost $2.0 billion in 2016. So-called “active” antennas are the hot segment of this market. Widespread installations of active antennas, which combine the base station’s RF electronics in the antenna housing mounted at the top of the tower, have only begun quite recently.

According to research director Lance Wilson, “Active antennas offer a solution to the problem of rapidly growing wireless data traffic. Conventional designs are not as efficient; active antennas offer much greater efficiency and versatility when handling large quantities of signals, including wireless data.” Apart from the “active” segment, the antenna market can be described as stable and mature. “Market growth is gradual and steady,” says Wilson. ”That, along with the huge size of the market (from a component or subassembly standpoint), is precisely part of its appeal for vendors.”

The antenna vendor ecosystem is slightly unusual in that there are multiple tiers and many participants. The bulk of these vendors are small companies that command only fractional percentages of the total available market (why is that?). ABI Research believes that some market consolidation is likely. The scenario for active antennas is a bit different, with antenna manufacturers normally partnering with equipment builders.

Will 4G provide much stimulus to the antenna market? “Some upside is present with LTE/4G,” says Wilson, “but this will be moderated by the eventual decline in the GSM family of technologies. With the exception of still-developing regions, GSM infrastructure is largely built-out already. 4G won’t replace the millions of existing GSM base stations with similar quantities.”

I think antenna hardware and technology are overlooked in the most wireless markets as one of the more vital components of the system. Antenna articles are one of the most submitted types of articles we receive at Microwave Journal but few antenna manufacturers advertise or seem to be active at shows with the exception of the Satellite show.

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