The Opportunities and Challenges of LTE Unlicensed in 5 GHz
David Witkowski, Executive Director, Wireless Communications Initiative
In 1998, the Federal Communications Commission established the Unlicensed National Information Infrastructure or U-NII 5 GHz bands. These are used primarily for Wi-Fi networks in homes, offices, hotels, airports, and other public spaces and also consumer devices. U-NII is also used by wireless Internet Service Providers, linking public safety radio sites, and for monitoring and critical infrastructure such as gas/oil pipelines.

MMD March 2014

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Band Reject Filter Series
Higher frequency band reject (notch) filters are designed to operate over the frequency range of .01 to 28 GHz. These filters are characterized by having the reverse properties of band pass filters and are offered in multiple topologies. Available in compact sizes.
RLC Electronics

SP6T RF Switch
JSW6-33DR+ is a medium power reflective SP6T RF switch, with reflective short on output ports in the off condition. Made using Silicon-on-Insulator process, it has very high IP3, a built-in CMOS driver and negative voltage generator.

Group Delay Equalized Bandpass Filter
Part number 2903 is a group delayed equalized elliptic type bandpass filter that has a typical 1 dB bandwidth of 94 MHz and a typical 60 dB bandwidth of 171 MHz. Insertion loss is <2 dB and group delay variation from 110 to 170 MHz is <3nsec.
KR Electronics

Absorptive Low Pass Filter
Model AF9350 is a UHF, low pass filter that covers the 10 to 500 MHz band and has an average power rating of 400W CW. It incurs a rejection of 45 dB minimum at the 750 to 3000 MHz band, and power rating of 25W CW from 501 to 5000 MHz.

LTE Band 14 Ceramic Duplexer
This high performance LTE ceramic duplexer was designed and built for use in public safety communication and commercial cellular applications. It operates in Band 14 and offers low insertion loss and high isolation to enable clear communications in the LTE network.
Networks International

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April 2014

Evaluating Our Industry’s Health Requires a Broad Perspective
By John Farley, Director of Marketing
Pasternack Enterprises

Liam Devlin, CEO, Plextek RF Integration

As most RF and microwave companies are privately held and industry analysts rarely track sales of microwave components other than semiconductors and interconnects, determining the health of an industry as diverse as ours is extremely difficult. It’s not useful to rely on the subjective opinions of a few companies, as the answers you’ll get will invariably be based only on how that company is faring. There’s an analogy here to trade shows. Talk to someone from a company that generated 153 leads, none of which they deemed promising, and the show was a disaster. Ask someone from another company that generated three leads, one of which might lead to $100,000 in new business, and it was the best show ever. In both cases, the information is narrowly-focused, subjective, and not particularly useful.

In contrast, Pasternack has an ongoing dialog with both the users and suppliers of RF products throughout the broader electronics world, and because of its unique position in the supply chain has the perspective to identify and evaluate nearly all of the RF, microwave and millimeter-wave components available in the industry.

From these conversations and long-term relationships we are able to identify the types of products likely to experience growth or decline, and we believe that the overall industry will remain in reasonably good shape in 2014. In the commercial market, growth will be driven by the seemingly endless quest to make all things wireless-enabled, from entertainment systems to industrial automation, point-of-sale payment systems, medical devices, and home energy management and security, to name a few. However, as many of these applications require mostly wafer-scale devices rather than more traditional RF and microwave hardware, relatively few companies will benefit from these markets.

In the area of carrier wireless, the picture is a lot brighter for the overall industry thanks to the need of wireless carriers to provide reliable data (and of course voice) coverage virtually everywhere via their traditional networks at the higher data rates and bandwidths mandated by 3GPP Release 10 (LTE Advanced). To achieve this lofty goal, carriers are beginning to deploy large numbers of smaller base stations (that is, smaller than macro cells) as gap-fillers to ensure adequate signal strength everywhere possible. Carriers are also making Wi-Fi an integrated part of their network scheme for offloading some of the traffic created by bandwidth-intensive applications such as video streaming, as well as for backhaul.

The importance of Wi-Fi for many sectors of the RF and microwave industry cannot be overstated. What began as a wireless alternative to wired Ethernet for enterprise networks has become a fixture in millions of homes, public areas, and businesses ranging from coffee shops to fast food restaurants, malls, hospitals, convention centers, and dozens more. The large cable companies have deployed more than 150,000 Wi-Fi hotspots throughout the U.S. as a “value-added” feature for their customers, which the companies are now integrating through roaming agreements much like carrier wireless networks so customers of one company can access Wi-Fi in areas served by hotpots of the others. This concept is part of the upcoming HotSpot 2.0 based on the IEEE 802.11u standard that will let devices automatically connect to a Wi-Fi anywhere Hotspot 2.0 has been implemented.

There is also IEEE 802.11ac operating at 5 GHz as an extension to IEEE 802.11n with theoretical data rates of at least 500 Mb/s, which is already being added to devices ranging from smartphones to tablets and laptop computers. In addition, there’s IEEE 802.11ad that will operate at 60 GHz for very-short-range applications, within a room for example.

As if this alphanumerical soup was not enough, there are the somewhat confusing IEEE 802.22 and IEEE 802.11af (also called Super Wi-Fi) standards, both of which are supposed to operate in the “white spaces” between TV channels at frequencies of 54 to 790 MHz on a shared basis using cognitive radio technology to avoid interfering with other services. IEEE 802.11af falls into the category of “wireless LAN” standards with a range up to 5 km while 802.22 is a “wireless regional area network (WRAN)” standard covering distances up to 100 km. There are even more wireless standards lurking in committees but the point is clear: Wi-Fi is on the move.

All of these applications require RF and microwave hardware from passive components such as connectors and coaxial cable, couplers, filters, and power dividers to low-noise and RF power amplifiers and complete transceivers, to antennas and many other components. The sheer number of these deployments will ensure a steady stream of business for RF and microwave manufacturers for years to come. The same scenario also applies to RF distribution systems (also known as distributed antenna systems, or DAS) that are being rolled out to provide coverage in areas typically difficult to serve such as inside office buildings, university campuses, resorts, large hotels and casinos, and many other places.

The Outlook for Defense
Despite the handwringing surrounding the proposed 2015 defense budget, a close look shows that there ought to be plenty of opportunities for RF and microwave companies, although some will benefit more than others depending on which programs they support. In a nutshell, DoD plans to buy $153.9 billion worth of aircraft, ships, satellites, ground systems, and other equipment, which is only $3.8 billion or 4% below 2014. Research, Development, Test, and Evaluation (RDT&E) funding would be $63.5 billion, up $700 million from last year. The science and technology (basic research) budget is $11.5 billion, just shy of last year’s $12 billion, which includes $2 billion for countermeasures and $500 million for electronic warfare. An additional “opportunity, growth and security” initiative separate from the base budget includes almost $4 billion to buy aircraft, including 56 helicopters, eight P-8 Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft, two additional F-35 joint strike fighters, and 12 MQ-9 UAVs.

The budget also calls for developing a Long Range Discriminating Radar (LRDR), buying one more Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) battery and two more Advanced Extremely-High Frequency (AEHF) spacecraft. The Air Force F-15 fleet is targeted to receive Active Electronically-Scanned Array (AESA) radars and the Eagle Passive/Active Warning Survivability System (EPAWSS) that includes a new radar warning receiver and integrated jammer. Funds are also included to improve the F-22A Raptor’s APG-77 air-to-ground and electronic attack radar.

Funding is proposed for continuing development of the Air Force Space Fence land-based detection, tracking, and characterization radars, as well as incorporation of the Combat Network Communication Technology (CONECT) and secure “beyond line-of-sight” communications systems on 76 B-52 bombers. The B-2 bomber would receive the Common Very Low Frequency/Low Frequency Receiver (CVR). The Air Force is developing a new long-range bomber, the LRS-B, with advanced ISR, EW, and communications capabilities.

The E-8C Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System (Joint STARS) aircraft would get several radar upgrades and the venerable AWACS aircraft would receive enhanced electronic protection. Low-rate initial production of the Three-Dimensional Expeditionary Long-Range Radar (3DELRR) will soon begin, replacing the TPS-75 that is the primary long-range radar used by the Air Force. Regardless of what ultimately is approved by Congress, these and many other programs in which there is significant RF and microwave content will remain in this defense budget.

To sum it up, whether your market is primarily commercial or defense, 2014 will be, if not stellar, at least acceptable overall. Some types of components will be needed in greater numbers than others, but this has always been the case in good years and bad.

Pasternack Enterprises
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Uncertain Times for DefenseWill OpenRFM Shake Up the Microwave Industry?
By Barry Manz

Throughout the history of the RF and microwave industry there has never been a form factor standardizing the electromechanical, software, control plane, and thermal interfaces used by integrated microwave assemblies (IMAs) employed in defense systems. Rather, every system has been built to meet the requirements of a specific system, which may be but probably isn’t compatible with any other system. It’s simply the way the industry has always responded to requests from subcontractors that in turn must meet the physical, electrical, and RF requirements of prime contractors. Read More...

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