Research Question: As the 4G wireless network ecosystem evolves, which major vendors are poised for socket and design wins in 2015 and beyond?
Companies Covered: Freescale Semiconductor (FSL), Cavium (CAVM), Texas Instruments (TXN), Microchip Technology (MCHP), Ericsson (ERIC), Nokia (NOK), Alcatel-Lucent (ALU), ZTEST Electronics (CVE:ZTE), Samsung (KRX:005930, Cisco Systems (CSCO), Arista Networks (ANET), Brocade Communications Systems (BRCD)
Report Available: March 4, 2014
Blueshift’s initial research shows wireless network component companies fiercely battling to stay ahead of the technology curve to win business as the larger 4G base station market yields to small-cell radio alternatives.
- Growth in the global base station market increased 23% in 2013. Total base station shipments across all air interfaces and frequency bands were 1.88 million in 2013. EJL Wireless Research predictedglobal base station shipments would decrease by 17% in 2014; however as of recent, wireless infrastructure shipments have been increasing. Q3 2014 saw a 14% increase in infrastructure shipments, Q4 shipments are expected to increase by 11%, and Q1 2015 shipments are expected to decrease by 7%. The microcontrollers, DSP, & IP-core chip market (the components within wireless infrastructure/base station equipment) will grow at a 6.96% CAGR from 2014 to 2020, reaching a market value of $41.69 billion by 2020.
- In late 2013, vendor share of global validated LTEcontracts were: Huawei 37%, Ericsson 33%, NSN 17%, Alcatel 7%, ZTE 4%, and Samsung 2%. In Europe, vendors most likely to benefit from an uptick in wireless infrastructure spending are ERIC, Huawei, and NOK. Base station design will trend toward multiple input, multiple output technology (MIMO) as the 5G standard nears. ZTE recently claimed to be the world’s first company to complete field testing on its MIMO base station. ZTE’s tests also set base station capacity end efficiency records. CAVM expects to fill more network gear sockets in the near-term; its CEO recently announced that 2015 will be its “signature year” as it plans to roll out bold product introductions it’s been planning since 2012. Qualcomm Atheros believes it is in the lead with its portfolio of 802.11ac 2.0 capable chips that utilize multiple user MIMO (MU-MIMO) technology.
- TheS. 4G network is already 85% built, therefore carriers increasing capacity will drive wireless infrastructure growth. Revenue at ERIC and ALU have sputtered as the 4G saturation point nears; both companies saw their 2014 revenue fall in the U.S. by 5% and 11%, respectively. Increasing base station installations in densely populated areas have proven to be a difficult venture. Instead, small cell remote radio heads (RRH), i.e. shrunk-down base stations, will be a popular alternative for both carriers and local governments in urban areas. To pave the way for more small cell and distributed antenna systems, the FCC reduced regulatory burdens slowing progress.
To determine which vendors will win in the wireless network components market. Blueshift will gather data and issue a market research report from independent sources in the following areas: chip designers, semiconductor sales professionals, wireless network engineers, and industry specialists.
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