Millimeter Wave Growth Will Continue Well Into The Decade

More growth in millimeter wave usage in cell back haul links is in direct correlation with the rise in rich internet media services.  As we become accustomed to media like video via our phones, the need to output higher data bandwidth across our cellular networks is needed.  As Silicon Valley creates new services that bring us more internet media, our global infrastructure will have to update their capacity to carry the increased bandwidth needs. Video over the internet is barely in it’s infancy despite the wide adoption of YouTube for example. If you think our networks are choking today…just wait and see what this decade will bring.

Actually, the limitations on what can be done by IT developers, Hollywood etc… are held in check  because broadband services can not meet the voracious demand that consumers want. Services like FaceTime, Youtube Channels, IPTV Broadcasting to name a few are all waiting for the day that we have a true wireless broadband service that can handle the load. AT&T is an example of a company that now is limiting what it’s customers can do by banning the Facetime app on its network. This move has prompted net neutrality lawsuits already but also highlights the fact that our wireless networks can not handle the avalanche of traffic to come.

The need for deploying millimeter wave technology is here today. The one main use that may help alleviate this is in the cell  phone tower backhaul communications sector. Cell phone towers all communicate with each other and the internet backbone. They basically collect all your calls (data) and relay them as needed. Imagine millimeter wave as a bigger garden hose that allows more data to pass through as it sends it off. This is the reason for the growth in the cell back haul arena. They need bigger pipes (bandwidth) to meet demand.

Market research firm Infonetics Research released excerpts from a pair of recently published vendor market share and forecast reports: Microwave Equipment, which tracks Ethernet, TDM, and hybrid microwave equipment by spectrum, capacity, form factor, and architecture, and Millimeter Wave Equipment, which tracks unlicensed E band 60GHz, licensed E band 70–90GHz, and W band 75–110 GHz millimeter wave equipment by network application (access, backhaul, transport).

“Although the microwave equipment market ended down a bit in 2011 compared to the previous year, the market is poised to return to growth as LTE backhaul needs accelerate, particularly Ethernet microwave gear,” expects Richard Webb, directing analyst for microwave at Infonetics Research.

Webb adds: “Meanwhile, the millimeter wave equipment space was characterized in 2011 by ‘the Clearwire effect’ as Clearwire shifted from their nationwide WiMAX rollout in the US–for which they heavily invested in millimeter wave in 2010 for short-distance backhaul–to prepare for a transition to LTE. Though this resulted in a steep decline in the millimeter wave market in 2011, Infonetics remain bullish on this emerging market, forecasting a 63% compound annual growth rate for millimeter wave equipment revenue from 2011 to 2016. The market will be driven by wider availability of licensed and unlicensed millimeter wave products and as demand for high capacity mobile backhaul solutions for metro areas with high cell density—and small cells in particular—increases with the deployment of 4G networks.” ….More can be found here

Other Notes
India and China are two markets that have yet to unleash 4G services nationwide. 3G penetration in China is still completing after a 2009 initiative to roll-out in the company and upgrade infrastructure. India lags behind and is rapidly looking at infrastructure upgrades. The next decade in the southeast Asia sector will lead the global community in cell back haul as these countries come online and are fueled by demand from rich internet media services that require higher back haul transmission links. As the worldwide demands fro rich media on wireless networks continue, millimeter wave technology will be there leading the way.