4G and 5G to Change the RF Front-End Industry Landscape

According to a recent report by Yole Group of Companies, the RF front end modules and components market for cellphones is expecte to grow from $10.1 Billion in 2016 to approximately US $ 22.7 billion by 2022The investigative report based on the front-end of the RF industry not only reports of a complex market that will more than double in six years but also states the growth to be un-evenly distributed and with something or the other for every market player.

The group proposed two reports on the front end RF industry, entitled, RF Front End Modules and Components for Cellphones 2017: a report on an industry that is undoubtedly complex due to the diversity of products and technologies but not only due to the smartphone market needs. The report proposes an impressive picture of the status of this market and analyzes the evolution of the industry in term of architecture, design and materials. 

The second report, Smartphone RF Front-End Module Review, points out the current technical challenges and is a detailed comparison of the current solutions proposed by the leaders of this industry. It highlights the technical choices to be done to answer to the smartphone market evolution.

The upcoming 5G communication technology is creating a new order in the communication market. Major RF FE players are battling to provide powerful devices that could be integrated in smartphones. Although not all technologies suit the 5G requirement but every industry player is expected to take away something from the wide market. There will be opportunities for low cost competitors in the SAW filter market for low band communications like GSM, 2G or 3G, as high quality competitors shift focus to the 4G and 5G market with BAW filters. This comes along with better integration of all the FE communication devices, now in just one module.

Filters currently represent the biggest business segment in the RF front end industry, and the value of this segment will more than triple from 2016 to 2022. Most of this growth deriving from additional filtering needs from new antennas as well as the need for more filtering functionality due to Multiple Carrier Aggregation.

PAs and LNAs will be the second biggest RF front-end business. It will be almost flat over the same period. According to the report, the High-end LTE PA market growth will be balanced by a shrinking 2G/3G market. In parallel, the LNA market will grow steadily, especially with the addition of new antennas. Switches, the third biggest business, will double and will mainly be driven by antenna switches. Lastly, antenna tuners, a small business with an estimated US $ 36 million market value, will expand 7.5-fold to reach US $ 272 million in 2022. This growth is mainly due to tuning being added to both the main and the diversity antennas.

Both the reports can be downloaded for more information: