5G is driving the RF front-end components market growth for telecom infrastructure

The RF component market for telecom infrastructure will peak at $4.2B in 2023 thanks to active implementation of 5G.


  • Market forecasts:
    The telecom infrastructure RF market today is estimated to be worth US$2.7 billion in 2020.
    It is expected to reach over US$4.2 billion in 2023, before going down to US$3.6 billion in 2025.
    Yole Développement (Yole) expects a 6% CAGR between 2020 and 2025.
  • Technology trends:
    The first deployments for 5G are done through the usual equipment seen today for LTE.
    Indoor units are expected to gain market acceptance once the industry and enterprises open up to the new capabilities brought by 5G and its network slicing.
  • Supply chain:
    5 major OEMs are leading the base station market.
    In parallel, the market is more fragmented at the RF front-end level.
    NXP, Qorvo and Sumitomo Electric Device Innovation are the TOP 3 RF FE players.

“The development of AAS for urban coverage, for both LTE and 5G equipment, can be seen as the main game changer in the telecom infrastructure RF component industry in the past few years.” asserts Cédric Malaquin, Technology & Market Analyst, RF Devices & Technology at Yole Développement (Yole). 
These systems have changed in the number of RF chains and their power level. In previous passive approaches, a RRH with up to four independent streams would amplify the signal, with power levels in the 80W range on average. With active antennas, up to 64 independent RF lines are used, with power levels down to 5W and below. This has drastically changed the bill of material.

In this context, Yole investigates disruptive RF technologies and related markets in depth, to point out the latest innovations and underline the business opportunities.
Released today, the 5G’s Impact on RF Front-Ends for Telecom Infrastructure 2021 report takes a deep dive into the technology itself. It provides detailed market forecasts down to wafer starts, depending on the substrates and addresses value chain problems and looks at revenue evolution for the different players…
What are the economic and technological challenges of the telecom infrastructure industry? What are the key drivers? What are the changes happening in the RF FE industry? Who are the suppliers to watch, and what innovative technologies are they working on? Will the technical choices made by the players, position them well for addressing 5G implementation?
Yole presents today its vision of the 5G impact on RF front-end for telecom infrastructure industry.

As analyzed by Yole’s team in the new 5G’s Impact on RF Front-Ends for Telecom Infrastructure 2021 report, the need for pre-final stage amplification components such as gain blocks, pre-drivers and switches, and general amplification, has been multiplied by a factor 16 in some cases. Also, the main amplification is no longer high power by default.
According to Antoine Bonnabel, Technology & Market Analyst, RF devices and Technology at Yole:
“There has been a change in frequencies with the arrival of 5G, adding frequency bands above 3GHz in FR1, and mmWaves in FR2. This and the system-level trend have had a profound impact on both the number of components, and the technology platforms on which they are built”.
GaN is gaining momentum against LDMOS for final stage amplification for performance reasons directly linked to operator’s operational expenditure in mid and high bands. Silicon-based technologies are arriving and will compete with GaAs for lower power amplification. Also BAW -type filters are happening for receive paths.

The RF component market is expected to grow in the next few years. This is quite unusual for this industry as the investment put in by operators in improving the network is supposed to remain steady. But with the arrival of AAS, the bill of material for radio units has increased. Telecom operators therefore had to separate value from cost of operation of equipment. The market is supposed to grow in the next few years for two reasons. First, the penetration of active antenna systems should reach its maximum in 2023. But, once representing over 40% of the general system market, RRHs will still be used in lower user equipment density areas thanks to their lower cost. Second, 5G rollout is ongoing now and should peak in 2023. Past this date, radio installs will slowly transition from deployments to upgrades, thus reducing the volumes needed. The telecom infrastructure RF market today is estimated by Yole to be worth US$2.7 billion in 2020, reaching over US$4.2 billion in 2023, before going down to US$3.6 billion in 2025.
For Mohammed Tmimi, Ph.D., Technology and Market Analyst for the RF devices & Technologies Group at Yole:
“The value of the market for components is expected to contract between 2023 and 2025. But this does not mean that it will do so for every technology platform used”.

All year long, Yole Développement publishes numerous RF-related reports and monitors. In addition, experts realize various key presentations and organize key conferences.
Make sure to be aware of the latest news coming from the industry and get an overview of our activities, including interviews with leading companies and more on i-Micronews. Stay tuned!

RF: Radio Frequency
CAGR: Compound Annual Growth Rate
LTE: Long Term Evolution, part of 4G
FE: Front-End
AAS: Active Antenna Systems
RRH: Remote Radio Head
GaN: Gallium Nitride
LDMOS: Laterally Diffused Metal Oxide Semiconductor
GaAs: Gallium Arsenide
BAW: Bulk Acoustic Wave