MIMO Antenna Systems Now Just Starting to Realize their Full Potential in LTE Networks

According to a recent ABI Research reportMIMO will become an increasingly important part of the mobile network in its evolution towards 5G. Massive MIMO will be a key feature of 5G and deploying advanced MIMO for 4G could be a long-term investment which will prepare the ground for deployment of the next generation of networks.

While MIMO has not delivered on its promises so far, the technology will become a foundational building block for mobile networks in the evolution of 4G and 5G and advanced antenna systems will receive increasing attention and R&D by both vendors and Mobile Network Operators. According to ABI Research, there will be an increase in the acquisition activities in the antenna market, particularly involving MIMO technology.

According to the report, the number of MIMO-enabled LTE antennas will double worldwide from 2017 to 2021 to reach almost 9 million units. The Asia Pacific region will grow to represent most of the market by 2021. Although the MIMO-enabled LTE platform will retain the largest installed base through 2021, growing by a factor of almost two times, the MIMO-Enabled LTE-Advanced platform and MIMO-enabled LTE-Advanced Pro will rise rapidly to match the scale of the earlier MIMO-enabled LTE platform. The cellular antenna market forms a very dynamic and innovative ecosystem with many vendors including Amphenol, Comba, CommScope, Huawei, Kathrein and RFS all competing to include these advanced multi-antenna features.

Advanced antenna systems including complex passive antennas and large scale massive MIMO active antennas will become part of the roadmap to advanced LTE and 5G. The need for active antennas when MIMO becomes more advanced will also change the market map, which has largely depended on passive antennas for previous generations.

The findings are from ABI Research's "Evolution of MIMO in LTE Networks" report. This report is part of the company's Mobile Networks Service research service, which includes research, data, and analyst insights.