Carriers continue to invest in 5G networks as mobile traffic grows exponentially.
By the end of 2022, the mobile market had 1.23 billion smartphones and 6.9 million wireless devices, of which more than 600 million smartphones and nearly 1.5 million wireless devices were 5G.
Chinese mobile network operators maintained rapid deployment of BTS in 2022, accounting for half of global BTS deployment.
Indian operators are aggressively deploying 5G networks.
This will lead to radio unit deployments peaking in 2023, with more than 7.5 million units deployed worldwide.
Macro BTS 'RF component market reached $3.2 billion in 2022 and is expected to grow to $3.8 billion by 2028.
By 2023, we expect significant volume and value growth, driven primarily by the rollout of 5G networks in India.
The market volume is expected to continue to grow, supported by higher penetration of large-scale MIMO antennas.
There are many potential use cases for Sub-6 GHz small base stations and 5G millimeter waves, but these technologies are struggling to penetrate the market.
The slow growth is due to the industry's focus on large-scale C-band MIMO deployments.
Nonetheless, we expect steady growth in small cell towers, with significant increases beginning in 2024.
The RFFE market for small base stations and millimeter wave radios is expected to exceed $400 million by 2028.
NXP dominates the RF front-end market with a 35% share.
The top 5 RAN vendors (Huawei, Ericsson, Nokia, ZTE and Samsung) are consolidating their lead.
Huawei and ZTE have increased market share due to their massive deployment in China, while Samsung has capitalized on its early adoption of v-RAN and O-RAN strategies.
The RF front-end ecosystem for 4G/5G wireless infrastructure is technically complex.
Some players stand out with significant market share, among them: NXP, Qorvo, SEDI and Analog Devices.
NXP is the undisputed leader, with a 35% market share in the overall RFFE market.
At the wafer level, growth will be handled by IDMs such as NXP and Infineon and major foundries such as GlobalFoundries, Tower Semiconductor and ST Microelectronics.
The trade war between the United States and China is polarizing China's supply chain from the rest of the world.
As a result, China is accelerating the development of its local supply chain, with more and more companies crowding into the RF front-end space.
RAN is moving toward 5G STAND ALONE and larger scale MIMO
Global 5G started with a non-independent 5G (NSA) to ensure a fast rollout and smooth co-existence with 4G LTE.
5G Standalone (SA) requires a new investment but can implement new use cases, such as network slicing, which MNO can use to monetize.
Radio is using higher order MIMO systems, which greatly affects the number of RFFE components.
The 10W and 5W PA modules of the 32T32R and 64T64R AAS integrate the driver and front driver for lower electronic power and higher integration.
The need for power optimization is accelerating the transition to GaN-SiC final stage power amplifiers.
Final PA accounts for 45% of the RFFE market.
Gans are more efficient than LDMOS, so most new AAS designs are based on Gans.
Supported by the Infineon PA module, GaN-Si is expected to enter the mid-band large-scale MIMO antenna market.
Looking further afield, research into 6G has already begun.
From a technical perspective, the main challenge will be to transmit terahertz frequencies (100-300 GHz), which will require new technology, equipment and components.
InP or SiGe is considered a potential technology to achieve 6G.