by Richard Hawkins, President – LadyBug Technologies LLC
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?
We see an increase in defense-related business. Defense customers are looking for suppliers that deliver value without compromising performance and accuracy. The unmanned-defense business plays a significant role in this growth. These vehicles require many forms of communication that may operate at a variety of frequencies using various modulation methods. This, along with advanced radar, makes this slice of business a target growth area.
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 more information is delivered in the signal, opportunities for innovative methods of signal testing and verification will arise. Solid traceable test equipment capable of measuring all aspects of these signals is required. Expensive VNAs and spectrum analyzers are available to satisfy some of the requirements. Manufacturing test opportunities exist wherein summarized results from production lines require cost-effective, specialized equipment. The companies that provide cost-effective, reliable, accurate equipment for the 5G industry today will be the leaders in tomorrow’s manufacturing test business for the vast array of products produced.
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 Internet of Things covers such a broad area that it nearly defies definition. Nevertheless, it is defined and will represent substantial growth to the microwave test and components business. Low-power single-chip communication solutions are now being used as a basis for countless new applications, including life-saving medical applications, defense, and many consumer products. New semiconductor technologies, along with IoT definitions, allow devices with very low power to mesh into networks, then onto anywhere.
MPD: In your opinion, what are the RF and microwave technologies to watch in 2017?
In 2017, we expect to see higher carrier frequencies and new modulation densities. From our Power Sensor Business perspective, the technology requires a two-fold response. First, solid traceable True-RMS Power measurements so that developers and manufacturing test customers verify their systems and can be assured that they are operating at the required power levels. Second, sensors with detected modulation capability, allowing the measurement of critical signal properties.