A new market study predicts that the RF front-end market for handsets will reach $12 billion by 2018. The 180-page report by Mobile Experts analyzes the market for RF components in handsets, tablets, PCs, and machine-to-machine (M2M) modems. It also predicts the convergence of multiple technologies, many of which are disruptive: complementary-metal-oxide-semiconductor (CMOS) power amplifiers (PAs); envelope tracking; antenna tuning; multimode, multiband PAs; filter integration and packaging techniques; carrier aggregation; and advanced multiple-input multiple-output (MIMO) in mobile terminals.

Mobile Experts expects this market to grow quickly. Yet amplifiers, filters, switches, tuners, and antennas are predicted to grow at different rates. More than 55 RF component suppliers were interviewed to gather data on 48 mobile frequency bands. Joe Madden, Principal Analyst at Mobile Expert, told us, “We track all of the frequency bands that are identified by 3GPP [3rd Generation Partnership Project], but we are also tracking eight different frequency bands that have not yet been assigned a 3GPP band designation.” Those bands include the European Supplemental Downlink (SDL) band, 450-MHz bands, US WCS band, and another 716-to-722-MHz SDL band, which is likely to be used in the Americas.