Scottsdale, AZUpdated forecasts from ABI Research (www.abiresearch.com) for the global RF power-amplifier market indicate that while the total available market for these essential cellular base-station equipment items is still shrinking, the decline is not as severe as had been feared.

An ABI Research report on this market also points to two other significant factors that have changed the market landscape in the past 15 months: the entry of Chinese vendors and the growing use of high-efficiency amplifier designs.

"The RF power-amplifier market for this segment is still showing a downward trend," says ABI research director Lance Wilson, "but the good news is that the descent is not as precipitous as originally thought. Though basic GSM is slowly declining, EDGE has satisfied the data needs of many users to a greater extent than anticipated. At the same time, many operators are becoming more wary of big 3G-related spending. The result is that such GSM-based systems have enjoyed a longer life-cycle, which in turn stretches out the growth period for 3G. That has a direct impact on what happens in the power-amplifier and devices market."

Meanwhile Chinese vendors, led by Huawei Technologies and ZTE, have become more active in the RF power-amplifier market, and are starting to have an effect on the device market. "This is both an opportunity and a threat," comments Wilson. "The Chinese position in the RF power-amplifier and device market is not insignificant. Growing Chinese participation is an addition to the markets, but at the same time it represents competition for incumbent vendors."

Much of the Chinese output is directed at the domestic market, where it will reduce earlier demand for equipment sourced from elsewhere. The start of TD-SCDMA network deployment in China will also continue to contribute to overall market size.

Finally, high-efficiency RF amplifiers for wireless infrastructure are starting to enter the mainstream, and will be seen in increasing quantities over the next five years. Greater amplifier efficiency means lower base-station costs, in both initial price, and in lower power consumption and operating cost.

For more, see the ABI Research study, "RF Power Amplifiers: Equipment and RF Power Device Analysis for Cellular and Mobile Wireless Infrastructure Markets."