As members of the RF and microwave industry make their annual pilgrimage to IMS 2014 (this year in Tampa), I offer my opinion on the industry’s overall health at mid-year. Fortunately, it appears that it’s going to be hot in Tampa in more ways than one. Just how hot depends on many factors, many of them company-specific, so there’s no single answer to “How’s business?” Nevertheless, a realistic approach with this blog is to look at key markets in the wireless industry.
Having rolled out LTE, wireless carriers now have to accommodate the enormous amount of data their high-speed networks are generating and ensure good coverage is available in all (or most) of the places people are likely to be. Carriers are looking at all possibilities, from small cells to RF distribution systems to point-to-point microwave links, optical fiber, and Wi-Fi. Lots of RF and microwave semiconductors, other hardware, and test equipment will be required to satisfy these demands, and the pace of deployment has quickened this year.
We also have a new catch-all phrase to wrap our brains around,
“The Internet of Things”, which besides being a nice marketing term actually means something. That is, connecting every conceivable thing, from appliances to cars to pacemakers, using wireless technology. Revenue thus far in 2014 is difficult to measure, but it’s tangible–and growing fast. Combine these with upgrades to macro cells, and (mostly semiconductor) sales of components to manufacturers of smartphones, tablets, and other “wireless-enabled” devices, and the wireless industry does indeed look “warm to hot” so far this year.
If I had to pick a favorite it’d be Wi-Fi, as it morphs form its limited origins to become a “roamable” parallel track with carrier wireless. Carriers desperately need Wi-Fi’s traffic-offloading benefits, it helps create “ubiquitous coverage, and there’s local and national advertising revenue to be made. Oh, and consumers will benefit too.
What’s your choice for “wireless technology of the year”?
Barry Manz is president of Manz Communications, Inc., a technical media relations agency he founded in 1987. He has since worked with more than 100 companies in the RF and microwave, defense, test and measurement, semiconductor, embedded systems, lightwave, and other markets. Barry writes articles for print and online trade publications, as well as white papers, application notes, symposium papers, technical references guides, and Web content. He is also a contributing editor for the Journal of Electronic Defense, editor of Military Microwave Digest, co-founder of MilCOTS Digest magazine, and was editor in chief of Microwaves & RF magazine.
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