by Ryan Pratt, Founder & CEO – Guerrilla RF
MPD: The fifth generation of cellular is rapidly approaching and the immense scope of 5G seems almost certain to present significant opportunities for the RF and microwave industry. What is your perspective on this issue?
5G will present major opportunities for the RF/microwave industry. One of the key enabling technologies for 5G appears to be high order MIMO. This will drive the use of many more components as well as integration and miniaturization. It is possible to see RF/microwave dollar content exploding on both the mobile and infrastructure sides, driven by massive MIMO.
Another key trend of 5G is the use of new frequency bands, especially in the millimeter–wave regime. Currently, millimeter–wave components are mainly high dollar, low volume products targeted at small end markets. The potential for widespread use of these frequencies in 5G means that there is an enormous opportunity to commercialize new technologies to address a new, high volume application. Whoever can figure out how to develop cost-effective, high frequency components will be a major beneficiary of 5G rollouts.
MPD: The Internet of Things (IoT) might better be called the Wireless Internet of Things, as without RF and microwave technology, little could be accomplished. If your company is selling into this market, please provide your perspective on IoT and its prospects for the RF and microwave industry.
The explosion of wireless devices connecting to the Internet will be a big factor driving wireless network infrastructure upgrades for a long time. IoT devices imply low bandwidth usage individually, but collectively have the potential to soak up enormous amounts of capacity. From Wi-Fi routers to small cells and base stations, these pieces of the network will need to be able to handle the multiplying bandwidth requirements. In addition, there are new standards and networks emerging like LoRa that will need additional build–out from scratch. We see the infrastructure opportunity as driven by IoT to be enormous.
MPD: In your opinion, what are the RF and microwave technologies to watch in 2017?
The introduction of new RF/microwave components in frequency bands that are just starting to be used will be interesting. For example, new components targeting 3.5 GHz cellular backhaul, 5-6 GHz LTE-U and 28 GHz 5G. Also, keeping a close eye on the evolution of the 5G standard in 2017 will be important. There is still much left to be defined and many questions to be answered, so it will be interesting to see which way things move despite all the hype.