Articles by Joe Madden
The mobile data tsunami represents a major disruptive event in the industry, which gives each player an opportunity to advance (or to die). Samsung is moving up in the infrastructure world, with new contracts at Sprint for world-class deployment. Nokia's recent financial announcement shows great discipline, but also signals future problems for the Finns. I don't have all the answers, but I ask good questions.
Over the past year, Mobile Experts has conducted deep investigations into Macro Base Stations, Active Antenna Systems, Small Cells, Cloud RAN, Carrier Wi-Fi, and DAS. Every time that we talk to an enthusiastic young company about one of these new technologies, we hear about how the new technique will sweep across the entire mobile infrastructure market, changing everything. In reality, each new technique seems to be a piece of the overall puzzle. And that's a good thing.
While the industry conferences focus on small cells, there is another type of in-building wireless coverage which is quietly rolling out and taking care of capacity and coverage issues. Distributed Antenna Systems are becoming big business, with a global growth rate of 20 percent this year, and higher numbers in key markets like North America.
The market for consumer femtocells has not taken off as many people hoped. Shipments of consumer femtocell units will reach 2.1 million this year, barely exceeding numbers in 2012 and 2011. The growth has reached a plateau of about 2 million units per year, which is essentially the same level of sales seen by consumer repeaters for the past 10 years.
The drive to create a single-SKU smartphone is getting a little crazy. Okay, drop the words "a little." Today's flagship smartphones cover 2G in four bands, 3G in six bands, and LTE in six bands. To make things worse, TD-LTE, Carrier Aggregation and supplemental downlink (SDL) bands will increase the total count to between 12 and 16 bands by 2016. MIMO in most of these bands doubles the number of antennas and receivers, creating a giant headache for the RF guys.