by Mark Wallace, Vice President and General Manager, Americas Field Operation
If your company serves the defense market, which application or applications do you believe will be the most lucrative from an RF and microwave standpoint in the coming year?
With reduced budgets in military spending, the services continue to seek ways to get their jobs done through collaborative efforts. No longer does each service design, develop, deploy and sustain their own unique platform. Keysight’s high performance modular instrumentation serves all the key test platforms with common, differentiated products. These high performance instruments support current and next generation warfighter and test platforms.
Systems within a defense platform have more digital signal processing (DSP) capability coupled with very robust RF requirements. This is being seen across the ecosystem —labs, ranges, and warfighter platforms all have increased DSP, sensor densities, and agile wideband RF requirements. Applications where digital and RF collide, coupled with wideband spectrum parameters, are where Keysight makes significant contributions to the warfighter platform design and test methodologies.
What emerging commercial applications or applications of RF and microwave technology do you believe will begin to deliver a respectable amount of revenue for the industry in 2016?
Internet-of-things (IoT) will continue to grow and influence both the commercial and aerospace defense industries. The bulk of investing for products in the ISM bands (2.4 GHz and 5.8 GHz) has already happened for the commercial industry, and so lower cost will drive the market for those applications.
Component size and the large investment that the commercial market has made will yield more interest in developing applications for military and government devices. The largest challenge for these emerging applications will be security. This means proprietary modulation formats and data algorithms.
Development in 5G wireless formats may drive research in developing lower cost components in the microwave and millimeter wave bands. These components are traditionally used by the military and satellite markets but could be used to help drive down the costs of commercial systems.
Referring to the defense market again, is your company experiencing any effects from DoD’s Better Buying Power 3.0 and open RF architecture initiatives?
Keysight has always focused on helping our customers achieve better lifecycle cost, which is a key component of BBP 3.0, and we have a long history of collaborating with both commercial and defense customers to this end. Our modular strategies are being adopted in major programs because Keysight has developed a common core set of modular instruments that can be used to replace older legacy instruments, such as the M937X Vector Network Analyzer and the M9393A Vector Signal Analyzer. These, along with other products, were developed by looking at the requirements of all the major test platforms (CASS, NGATS, GPATS, and VDATS). By implementing all the performance requirements into a single instrument, our DoD customers realize lower cost of ownership with increased interoperability between services.
Do you believe that emerging machine-to-machine communications (that is, IoT) will have a major positive impact on the RF and microwave industry in 2016?
IoT and smart connected devices have gained momentum and we anticipate strong growth in 2016 and beyond, resulting in positive impact on the RF and microwave industry. In 2015, we saw a major increase in RF test for major wireless technologies used in IoT, such as Bluetooth® Low Energy (BLE), new WLAN formats such as 802.11ah and 802.11p, and IEEE 802.15.4 based short-range communication formats such as ZigBee and Thread, just to name a few. External IoT forecasts project a strong growth, well beyond those of most other industries, and we expect growth as chipset, module and product makers deliver these devices to businesses and consumers.
Another major driver for growth in 2016 will be the new anticipated IoT standard from 3GPP known as narrow-band IoT (NB-IoT). This will be added as part of Release 13 of the 3GPP standard, which is expected in middle of 2016. Some operators have already started work using pre-NB-IoT technology, with pre-commercial deployments expected in 2nd half of 2016. We are already seeing a lot of interest in this new 3GPP standard and are engaged with major chipset vendors who are already developing chipsets for the new standard. We expect this to grow with module and product developers in 2016 and beyond.