San Francisco, CA July 16, 2018: Global macrocell BTS antenna shipments increased 7% in 2017 despite weakness in China and India, according to the latest report from EJL Wireless Research titled “Global Macrocell BTS Antenna Market Analysis and Forecast, 2018-2022 10th Edition.” “Initial shipments of FDD/TDD antennas, coupled with growth in FDD antennas, sAIA products, and MM-ARS products supported the growth. Antenna revenues surged due to the mix shift towards higher port count passive products as well as increased shipments of sAIA and MM-ARS solutions,” says founder and President, Earl Lum. EJL Wireless Research is forecasting that macrocell BTS antenna shipments will decline by 10% in 2018 due to the shift towards higher port count passive antennas and continued weakness in China and India, offsetting initial 5G MM-ARS shipments in South Korea and the United States. However commercial deployments of 5G MM-ARS solutions will drive revenues up 234% in 2018.
EJL Wireless Research estimates that the Top 3 macrocell BTS antenna suppliers for units controlled 57% of total antenna shipments in 2017 while Top 3 macrocell BTS antenna suppliers for revenues captured 68% market share. The Top 3 antenna suppliers in unit shipment volumes were Huawei Technologies, Comba Telecom, and CommScope while the Top 3 antenna suppliers in revenues were Huawei Technologies, CommScope, and Kathrein. Chinese antenna suppliers captured 63% of shipments and 61% of revenues in 2017. Huawei Technologies was again the largest macrocell BTS antenna supplier in 2017 in terms of both units and revenues.
For currently overloaded LTE macrocell sites, EJL Wireless Research believes that the use of sector splitting with multi-beam antennas to add capacity may be the most economical option for mobile operators compared with the deployment of small cells to support ever increasing data usage from mobile subscribers. The potential to transform network capacity from a traditional three sector macrocell architecture to four, five, or more sectors per frequency band is on the near horizon.
“LTE-Advanced Pro services using 4×4 MIMO across multiple frequency bands, coupled with the strategy to consolidate all passive antenna ports onto a single panel per sector to support a “1+1” configuration are driving mobile network antenna upgrades using FDD and FDD/TDD antennas supporting 14-24 ports,” says Lum. The potential for a new class of antenna products, active (massive MIMO)/passive antenna radio systems (AP-ARS), is on the horizon as some mobile operators will not be able to deploy a “1+1” configuration on their macro sites and will be forced to deploy a ”1+0” configuration to support 5G NR services.
EJL Wireless Research forecasts global macro BTS antenna revenues to reach a record USD $74 billion by 2022 as massive MIMO antenna radio systems (MM-ARS) for LTE-Advanced Pro and 5G services will represent USD $70 billion of the total.
“We remain skeptical about the return on investment and capacity gains of 64T64R TDD MM-ARS solutions being 100% of 5G NR networks. We forecast a tiered approach to 5G NR deployments with the majority of products being 32T32R TDD MM-ARS and using the 64T64R TDD MM-ARS for very high capacity sites,” says Lum. ■
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