by Don Bradfield, GM, Microwave Products Division – Southwest Microwave
MPD: The defense market for RF and microwave components through subsystems appears to be more lucrative than in recent years, especially in the area of electronic warfare. If your company sells into the defense market, what are your thoughts about how it will perform in 2017?
Southwest Microwave’s business is based on providing the highest performing connectors and cables to both the commercial and defense markets. As a commodity supplier, our customers have difficulty providing forward-looking data to us. We are projecting modest growth, but that is based on several factors, including new product introductions that are viable for both the commercial and defense markets.
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?
As the development of the 5G architecture continues, what appears to be consistent is the need for expansion into the mm-Wave technology, including both engineering and manufacturing technologies. mm-Wave technology has been utilized in comparatively small-scale applications, so significant efforts will have to be dedicated to the development of high-volume manufacturing techniques to allow this technology to be cost competitive with lower frequency alternatives.
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.
It is generally difficult to determine the final product when providing a commodity. However, the performance requirements of IoT generally open the door for many connector providers. Since high performance is the centerpiece of Southwest Microwave, what we do to ensure that level of performance makes us unattractive to the IoT market.
MPD: In your opinion, what are the RF and microwave technologies to watch in 2017?
From the above discussion, 5G and WiGig will be the largest growth areas. They both focus on mm-Wave technology, which opens the frequency bandwidth and provides for higher utilization.