An intensifying US-China competition for RF technology supremacy.
- Covid 19’s impact on the RF frontend and connectivity business
- Ecosystem analysis and US/China trade war analysis
- Baseband and RF transceiver market forecast and shares added
- Market forecast and shares extracted at die level
- Connectivity market extended to ultra wideband
Key features of the report
- RF front-end market forecast 2015 – 2025, in Mu and $M
- Connectivity market forecast 2015 – 2025, in Mu and $M
- Market share $M and ecosystem analysis
- RF front-end and connectivity technology breakdown forecast • Wafer-start forecast per year 2015-2025
- 5G market trends and key features
- Connectivity market trends and key features
Objectives of the report
- Early implementation of 5G started end of 2019
- The technology has a strong potential for RF front-end market growth and is very attractive to many companies across the world.
- Sizing market opportunities and highlighting technology trends appeared to be useful for the semiconductor industry and led us to build this report.
- The RF front-end and connectivity markets involve a substantial amount of technology platforms competing with each other, many of which have a strong market disruption potential. This report provides a comprehensive analysis of each technology’s strengths and weaknesses and delivers an ecosystem snapshot as well as detailed market shares.
Table of content
Glossary and definition 2
Table of contents 4
Report scope 5
Report methodology 6
What we got right, what we got wrong 9
Executive summary 10
- Why this report ?
- 3-page summary
- Key take aways
Market forecasts 64
- Market segmentation
- Overall market forecast ($M)
- RF front-end market forecast ($M, Mu)
- Connectivity market forecast ($M, Mu)
- Component level market forecast ($M, Mu)
- RF front-end
- Technology breakdown ($M, Mu)
- Wafer start per type of substrate (kw)
Market trends 141
- 5G mobile market dynamics
- Spectrum and network status
Market shares and supply chain 185
- Smartphone phone market share
- Overall market share including baseband and transceiver
- RF front end market share
- Connectivity market share
- Component market share
- Ecosystem and technology landscape
- Industry news, status on M&A
Technology trends 228
- Radio access technology trend
- Focus on 5G features
- Focus on connectivity features
- RF architecture trend
- Components trend
- Related reports
5G AND WI-FI 6 BENEFIT FROM THE COVID19 PANDEMIC
Consumer appetite for data has not been reduced by the Covid19 pandemic. In fact, it’s the opposite. People realized the importance of being connected during lockdown. Most of the data traffic increase has been handled by fixed networks, but mobile networks also have been affected. Many service providers had to adapt to the situation. Whether fixed or mobile, service providers have a great window for migrating consumers to broadband internet access and to the new 5G and Wi-Fi6 plus fibre standards. The benefit at the network operator level is the efficiency of the new technologies, which would reduce cost of operation. And as early adopter consumers are ready to pay extra fees for the improved network and compelling data plans, the return on investment for the carrier will be reduced. China, South Korea and USA are early adopter countries of 5G where all major carriers have launched their network, as depicted in figure 1, and where consumers are technology enthusiasts. In Japan, in Europe and for the rest of the world, 5G network rollout is moving forward at a slower pace. The Chinese market will pull most of the demand for 5G smartphones in 2020. The US government is putting a strong emphasis on 5G and Wi-Fi 6 with unprecedented spectrum auction plans to accelerate the technology adoption at a broader scale. Indeed, these technology transitions contribute greatly to gross domestic product (GDP) in a context where nations are looking for growth more than ever.
RF FRONT-END AND CONNECTIVITY MARKETS POISED FOR DOUBLEDIGIT GROWTH
When we purchase a smartphone, we often look at the battery lifetime and the photographic performance. Then come system performance and connectivity, which is attributed to System-on-Chip (SoC) performance. One must also notice the fundamental role of the radio frequency (RF) front-end in the system performance. It directly impacts the device power consumption and is essential for routing, filtering and amplifying signals to and from the antennas. LTE and LTE-Advanced and Wi-Fi 5 standards have contributed to the rising complexity of RF front-ends in handsets. 5G and Wi-Fi 6 are no exception as both standards introduce new features that will increase the RF content and complexity. Indeed, to cope with more stringent requirements in data transmission speed and better spectral efficiency, a 5G handset will feature a 4×4 Multiple Input Multiple Output (MIMO) downlink for frequencies above 2.5 GHz. It will also have New Radio (NR) frequency bands along with Dual Connectivity (EN-DC) of 5G with LTE. There will be a 2×2 MIMO uplink in some cases and likely a diversity transmit link. Sounding reference signals will also be mandatory in 5G handset to optimize the radio link with an active antenna system within range. On top of that, 5G devices will have to meet the definition of high power user equipment for Time Division Duplex (TDD) NR bands and to be capable of operating with at least 100 MHz of bandwidth. Carrier Aggregation (CA) will be applied to 5G as it was for LTE. Other features will be evaluated, such as supplementary uplink, which could affect the RF content. Wi-Fi 6 will essentially democratize the use of 2×2 MIMO for up and downlink. Wi-Fi 6E will extend the frequency coverage of Wi-Fi signals to 6 GHz. New use cases such as file sharing or augmented reality and smart remote control are driving the need for a precise positioning technology. Thus, a new UWB radio will be added in handsets, further increasing the RF content. Overall, the RF front-end and connectivity market was valued at $15.2B in 2019. It will grow 11% Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) between 2020 and 2025 to reach $25.4B by 2025. The market will be segmented into multiple major components.
US/CHINA TRADE WAR TO ACCELERATE THE ECOSYSTEM TRANSITION
The RF front-end and connectivity market is led by five major companies sharing almost 80% of the overall business. Four out of five are US-based companies. The leading company is a Japanese firm. Decades of experience in the design and manufacturing of all major RF components explain the leading positions of Murata, Skyworks, Broadcom, Qorvo and Qualcomm. All major mobile device manufacturers rely on the expertise of one or more of these five as a first choice, as these companies provide state-of-the-art RF components. However, a variety of other companies from China, South Korea, Japan and Europe complete the RF front-end offering. Since trade tensions between US and China have risen, this equilibrium will likely evolve. We can expect Chinese mobile device manufacturers to rethink their supply strategy and be more active in building a local ecosystem sooner or later. Indeed, it’s already started in Huawei’s case. The main difficulty comes from the baseband supply. The company has its own Kirin platform with HiSilicon, which can no longer access state-of-the-art foundries such as TSMC for the manufacturing of its SoCs. Huawei is known to have stockpiled critical components, but will have to either outsource its future SoC developments or develop local foundry capability, as depicted in figure 3. Huawei is likely running both options in parallel. Regarding the RF front end and connectivity business, the supply of US based technologies is not strictly prohibited, only restricted. Qorvo and Skyworks used to strongly support Huawei, but will reduce their exposure in the future. Like the baseband side, Huawei is placing more orders for RF components to non-US based companies, especially to Japanese and European companies. Longer term, Huawei will develop the local ecosystem for RF parts by investing and making partnerships with local companies. As Huawei’s internal design house, HiSilicon has already extended its technology portfolio from Low Noise Amplifiers (LNAs), to Power Amplifiers (PAs) and switches and
has started to build PA modules. In addition, Huawei has invested in the filter company Shoulder. Advanced filter technology is the missing piece for Huawei to get a complete RF front-end as supplied by US-based companies.
Active Semi, Airoha, Akoustis, Apple, ASE, Asus, AT&T, AwinIC, Broadcom, CanaanTek, Cavendish Kinetics, China Mobile, China Telecom, China Unicom, CoolPad, Cypress Semiconductor, DB-HiTek, EE, Elisa, Ericsson, Etisalat, GlobalFoundries, Global Wafer, Google, HH Grace, HiSilicon, HMD Global, HTC, Huawei, Huntersun, Infineon, Intel, IQE, Jio, JRC, KDDI, KT, Kyocera, Lansus, Lenovo, LG, LG U+, Maxscend, MediaTek, Meizu, Murata, NationZ, Nokia, NSI, NTT Docomo, NXP, ON Semiconductor, OnePlus, Onmicro, Oppo, Orange, pSemi, Qorvo, Qualcomm, RDA, Resonant, Richwave, RoFS, Samsung, Samsung Electro Mechanical, SAWNICS, Shin-Etsu, Shoulder, SK Telecom, Skyworks, Smarter Micro, SMIC, SoftBank, Soitec, Sony, Sprint, ST Microecletronics, Sumitomo, Sunrise, Swisscom, Taiyo Yuden, TCL, TDK EPCOS, Telefonica, Telia, Telstra, TIM, T-Mobile, Toshiba, Tower Semi, Tpsco, TSMC, UMC, Unisoc, USI, Vanchip, Verizon, Vivo, Vodafone, WillSemi, WIN Semiconductors, WIPAM, Wisol, Xfab, Xiaomi, Xpeedic, Yuzhen IC, ZTE and more.
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