Researcher: Active antenna market buzzing

The antenna, which are atop towers and include the base station's RF electronics, are setting the pace for the overall antenna market.

According to ABI Research the total market for wireless-infrastructure antennas will approach $2 billion in five years. That total accounts for base-station, fixed and active antennas. When announcing these findings, ABI research director Lance Wilson emphasized the impact active antennas will have on the overall market growth.

He explained that active antennas combine the base station's radio-frequency electronics in the antenna housing mounted atop the tower. Widespread installation of these types of antennas is nascent, but expected to increase sharply. Wilson said these types of antennas "offer a solution to the problem of rapidly growing wireless data traffic. Conventional designs are not as efficient. Active antennas offer much greater efficiency and versatility when handling large quantities of signals, including wireless data."

ABI reports that aside from these active antennas, the antenna market is "stable and mature." Wilson described market growth as gradual and steady. ABI also pointed out what it describes as the "slightly unusual" antenna-vendor ecosystem. "There are multiple tiers and many participants," the company noted. It is made up largely of small companies, each of which claim a small percentage of the total market. The researcher foresees consolidation, although it views the active-antenna situation differently; antenna manufacturers typically partner with equipment builders.

"Some upside is present with LTE/4G, but this will be moderated by the eventual decline in the GSM family of technologies," Wilson explained. "With the exception of still-developing regions, GSM infrastructure is largely built-out already. 4G won't replace the millions of existing GSM base stations with similar quantities."

These findings are part of ABI Research's study Base Station, Fixed Outdoor, and Active Antennas, which provides forecast segmentations by type and encompasses both revenue and shipments. It also includes market-share analysis for vendor, type and region.

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