This year, the market for software-defined radios (SDRs) is predicted to be $13.9 billion. According to the MarketsandMarkets report, “Software Defined Radios Market (Defense, Commercial & Homeland Security) - Forecast Analysis to 2014 – 2020,” the SDR market will have almost doubled to reach $26.5 billion in 2020. That translates into a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 11.4% between now and 2020. Among the factors driving this growth are spectrum availability and interoperability. While increasing demand causes much spectrum to be auctioned off, for example, SDR ensures its utilization. SDRs also are boosted by the interoperability they provide, which is far beyond what is offered by conventional radios.

Airborne, naval, and land-based SDRs are all expected to have uniform growth--despite the fact that land-based SDRs are less costly to produce. SDRs will continue to serve myriad applications in the defense, civilian, and homeland-security markets. In defense, for example, SDRs are key to mobile ad-hoc networks, tactical communications, and real-time video broadcast. Meanwhile, civilians use mobile networks for communications while homeland security leverages them for public-safety notifications and coordination.

According to the report, the political, economic, socio-cultural, and technological (PEST) impacts of SDRs will be great. Politically, policies throughout different countries will regulate how SDR units are provided to troops while keeping budgets in line. As spectrum becomes more costly in the commercial sector, SDRs also will maximize the utilization of available spectrum. Given advancements in technology, SDRs are expected to gain increased reliability, which should further their growth and application reach. In terms of manufacturing, China and India will lead SDR production—providing a cheaper alternative to western options.