Spectrum Analyzers Continue to Advance
By Frost & Sullivan
With the options currently available, buying a spectrum analyzer is no different from buying a bike. Many brands and models are available that essentially provide the same functionality with varying degrees of accuracy, dynamic range and speed. Product introductions have been one of the key strategies adopted by the vendors to sustain growth in the competitive spectrum analyzers market.
As vendors made strategic decisions in terms of product development/enhancement and distribution, the last few years have been an interesting, as well as daunting, period. With conversion rate uncertainties, the United Kingdom and European economic crisis, the United States’ AAA rating crisis, and several countries requiring bailouts, end users fear uncertainty in an unstable period, leading to pessimism about new investment.
RF — A Doozy Segment
Spectrum analyzers have come a long way from being simple general-purpose testing instruments to more complex troubleshooting instruments. The explosion of broadband wireless with the new smartphones and tablets is one of the key drivers for the radio frequency analyzers market.
Higher frequency spectrum analyzers, also commonly referred to as microwave analyzers, are increasingly used for satellite communications system operations, testing communication equipment, and fulfilling wireless system commissioning and troubleshooting. Aerospace & defense is one of the key end-user industries where spectrum analyzers are needed for intelligence, regulatory monitoring, and defense applications.
A recent trend in the RF test equipment market is to provide integrated test solutions that feature many capabilities including a spectrum analyzer, and a modulation analyzer as well as a power meter. Such testers cover the complete life cycle of base station and mobile station testing from development to maintenance.
Research indicates that around 62 percent of the spectrum analyzer market revenues come from the RF segment. It is anticipated that with evolving end-user technologies, most of the spectrum analyzers will be RF compatible in the future.
Figure 1 highlights the percent of revenues by frequency range in the global spectrum analyzer market in 2011.
“With the proliferation of personal wireless devices with multiple RF capabilities, like smartphones, the job of the spectrum manager is becoming increasingly difficult. Handheld spectrum analyzers help address the need for field spectrum management. They are useful for governments and commercial spectrum regulators to discover when there is an interference issue, map it, and more quickly resolve the issue,” said Matt Maxwell, product manager for the source analyzer product line at Tektronix.
Communication Industry — Bread and Butter for RF Spectrum Analyzers
3G/4G deployments, the increasing complexity of mobile handsets, and LTE development efforts are expected to drive the growth in the RF spectrum analyzer market in the foreseeable future.
LTE: Adding features to the 3G standard has been the order of the day. Features that have been added to the 3G standard include High-Speed Downlink Packet Access (HSDPA), High-Speed Packet Uplink Access (HSUPA), and High-Speed Packet Access Plus (HSPA+). Similarly, 2G has gone through progressions such as General Packet Radio Services (GPRS), Enhanced Data Rates for GSM Evolution (EDGE), and evolved EDGE. These new generations of standards drive demand for spectrum analyzers.
The adoption of wireless technology has been increasing at a rapid rate over the past few years. In addition, emerging applications such as wireless LANs (Local Area Networks) and RF (Radio Frequency) home networking, and AMR (Automatic Meter Reading) based on wireless technologies further increase the need for spectrum analyzers.
The deployment of 3G infrastructure to the existing 2G and 2.5G network increases the functionality of the existing network. It is expected that globally around 60 percent of operators will launch 4G services by the end of 2012. For example, 4G is expected to spread in Europe by next summer as few operators have scheduled 4G launches in the coming weeks.
Complexity of handsets: To meet the end user requirements such as interoperable and cost-effective products, the complexity of handsets has significantly increased. There are also new mobile phones with new technologies needing testing, paving the way for advanced spectrum analyzers.
“We are seeing increased demand for RF signal analyzers worldwide. Much of this is driven by new wireless standards like 802.11ac and LTE Advanced and by the proliferation of wireless capabilities in non-traditional devices like thermostats, pacemakers and tire pressure monitors,” says Matthew Friedman, senior platform manager, RF and Microwave Test for National Instruments.
The Who’s Who in Spectrum Analyzers
To increase market share and remain competitive in this market, vendors are focusing on enhancing the RF specifications and increasing real-time bandwidth, frequency range and display capabilities of their products. Key participants offering traditional spectrum analyzers include Agilent Technologies, Tektronix, Rohde & Schwarz, Anritsu, Advantest, and Aeroflex, among others.
Traditional spectrum analyzers are available in the handheld/portable and bench-top form factors. With the increasing demand for one-stop box solutions, different combinations offering the functionalities of a logic analyzer, power meter, spectrum analyzer and oscilloscope in one instrument exist.
An example of such products is the MDO from Tektronix. “The multidomain correlation made possible by the MDO can help resolve sources of device self-interference that may cause a failure of the compliance test for a design,” highlights Maxwell.
Key products offered by the company and others such as Anritsu, Agilent Technologies and Rohde & Schwarz include the following:
Tektronix offers three main series of RF Spectrum Analyzers, including the RSA series Real Time Signal Analyzer, the MDO Mixed Domain Oscilloscope, and the RFHawk Handheld Signal Analyzer.
“Both the RSA and the RFHawk offer real-time capabilities. This means that there is a dedicated real-time processor in both of these product categories. The strict definition of a real-time analyzer is when an input is processed faster than it arrives; these instruments have dedicated processing power to perform this,” points out Maxwell.
Anritsu’s robust and extensive product line has had a positive impact on its customers over the years; this factor has served as a strong contributor to its enhanced earnings, year after year.
Anritsu offers the MS2830A, MS269xA (x = 1, 2, or 3), MS272xC (x = 1, 2, or 3), MS271XE(x = 1, 2, or 3), and MS2687B.
Agilent Technologies’ robust and extensive product line has had a positive impact on its customers over the years; this factor has served as a strong contributor to its enhanced earnings, year after year.
Agilent offers the FieldFox and HSA Handheld Spectrum Analyzer, PSA Series Spectrum Analyzers, X-Series Signal Analyzers, ESA-E Series Economy Spectrum Analyzers, N9912A FieldFox Handheld RF Combination Analyzer, N7109A Multi-Channel Signal Analyzer, N9320B RF Spectrum Analyzer, M9392A PXI Vector Signal Analyzer, and ESA-L Series Portable Spectrum Analyzers.
Rohde & Schwarz
Rohde & Schwarz has addressed the key challenges of the spectrum analyzers market commendably by leveraging its technical competency along with its proven market experience for the development of differentiated as well as innovative products that are embedded with advanced technological features. Popular products offered by Rohde & Schwarz include R&S FSW, R&S FSU, R&S FSQ, R&S FSMR, R&S FSUP, R&S FMU36, R&S FSG, R&S FSVR, R&S FSV, R&S FSP, R&S FSL, R&S ZVH, R&S FSH4, and R&S FSC.
A Look at the Key Regions
Figure 2 highlights the growth domestic product of key countries.
Not surprisingly, the spectrum analyzers market has been growing at a tremendous rate over the last two years. The off-shoring of manufacturing activity to emerging economies such as India, China, Eastern Europe, and Latin America is increasing demand for spectrum analyzers in these areas.
Figure 3 highlights the percent of R&D spending by geography.
The current trend in the percentage share of total global R&D spending, region-wise, suggests a decrease in percentage share of global R&D spending from traditional powerhouses such as the U.S., Europe, and Japan. Asia is expected to increase its R&D expenditure share over the next year. Asia, China and India are expected to increase R&D spending considerably.
Although these figures represent various end user segments across geographies, they provides an indication of the R&D spending trend and activity in these regions, which will be conducive to higher demand for spectrum analyzers in these markets.
Figure 4 highlights the revenue forecasts for the spectrum analyzers market in Latin America, India and China.
Spectrum analyzers sales in Latin America totaled $14.3 million in 2011. This represented an increase of 12.1 percent over 2010. Growth of 10.0 percent was achieved in 2010 because of pent-up demand. The increasing number of 3G mobile subscribers, along with the adoption of LTE in the Latin American region, is expected to drive the growth of the spectrum analyzers market.
Spectrum analyzers sales in India totaled INR 1003.7 million in 2011. This represented an increase of 1.5 percent over 2010. The Chinese spectrum analyzers market generated revenues of $59.9 million in 2010, which was an 18.7 percent increase over 2009. The market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 4.4 percent from 2010 to 2017. Like in other geographic regions, the growth of the telecommunications industry has been the major factor in the increase in demand for spectrum analyzers in the country.
Traditional instruments available in the hand held and bench-top form factors are still popular, but modular instruments are finding wider acceptance in production lines. Automated test applications are moving from traditional instruments to modular instruments due to cost, flexibility and scalability advantages. Demand from the R&D portion of the market is also moving more toward modular instruments, specifically design validation.
A key reason for the market shift toward modular software-based instrumentation is that it enables customized solutions at competitive prices. The flexibility that comes with modularity accelerates test system integration for design validation, reducing time to market. Leveraging the processing power of multicore CPUs, which are independent in modular software based instrumentation, is a key driver.
“One of the greatest technological changes in RF signal analyzers is the inclusion of user programmable FPGAs. They are giving engineers unprecedented control over their test instrumentation, enabling them to make measurements specifically customized for their application and in many cases performing tests 100 times faster than traditional solutions”, said Friedman.
Real-time signal analyzers address the bench-top spectrum analyzer market traditionally occupied by other spectrum analyzers and vector signal analyzers. There is increase in demand for real-time signal analyzers due to their ability to provide precision and the understanding of the true performance of time-varying signals, which address end user demands more effectively than traditional swept analyzers. A few popular products offered by market participants include Agilent Technologies’ 89600 VSA, Tektronix’ RSA 6000 series with DPX, and Rohde & Schwarz’s R&S FSVR.
Price is the Key
End users have had a greater need to increase efficiency and reduce unnecessary expenditures. As a result, prices have steadily fallen over the last few years. This has increased pressure on vendors to make available products providing higher functionality at lower prices.
Manufacturers are trying to mitigate the price sensitivity of the market by developing solutions with higher price performance. With the advent of the global marketplace, global procurement is anticipated to be an emerging trend. The price for handheld signal analyzers typically ranges from $10,000 to $30,000, while bench-top real-time analyzers start from $32,000 and basic spectrum analyzers range between $8,000 and $20,000.
“We think that the main challenge is the price reduction of signal analyzers due to the entry of new competitors from Asia. However, these new competitors do not have modulated signal analysis technology yet,” says Katsumi Narui, product marketing manager for signal analyzers and signal generators at Anritsu.
R&D — A Dime A Dozen Strategy
Supplier spending on research and development for spectrum analyzers has increased to cope with evolving end user technologies. With the drive for higher accuracy and speed, suppliers need to be constantly focused on improving and providing additions to products that serve customers’ needs. Although the technologies related to spectrum analyzers are well established, efforts are still being made for product enhancements and product introductions. A continued focus on improving technology increases user confidence and regenerates demand, which leads to increased demand.
Most suppliers maintain ongoing research and development programs to remain competitive. Advancements made in display technologies, inclusion of user programmable FPGAs, and an increased focus on resolution bandwidth have helped the vendors to uniquely position their product offerings in the market.
The Last Word
Evolving end-user technologies and the concurrent development of different standards call for spectrum analyzers with greater capabilities. However, as standards become more difficult to implement, it is a greater challenge for the analyzers to provide accurate troubleshooting capability, particularly in light of resolution bandwidth and accuracy. As standards continue to evolve and emerge, there is expected to be a greater demand for state of the art spectrum analyzers.
With interesting technological developments made, applications being researched and challenges being overcome, spectrum analyzers seem set to conquer the communications industry.
Analysis of the Latin American General Purpose Test Equipment Market.
Analysis of the Indian General Purpose Test Equipment Market.
Analysis of the Chinese General Purpose Test Equipment Market.
World Wireless Test equipment Market.
Global RF Test Equipment Market.
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