The global millimeter wave technology market is estimated to grow from USD 1.8 billion in 2021 to USD 4.7 billion by 2026, at a CAGR of 20.8%. An increase in broadband and mobile speeds, rise in the use of millimeter-wave in small-cell backhaul networks, and substantial demand in the use of millimeter-wave technology in security and radar applications are among the factors driving the growth of this market.
COVID-19 impact on millimeter wave technology market
Considering the telecom sector, millimeter wave technology products have found increasing adoption mainly due to the increasing trends in 5G infrastructure. COVID-19 will delay 5G delivery, which could affect revenue and CapEx projections. In March 2020, 3GPP, the global association developing the world’s 5G technology, announced a three-month delay in the timeline for the completion of 5G specifications: Releases 16 and 17. Stage 3 of Release 16 was completed in July 2020. Also, further work on Release 17 is shifted by 3 months, so the freezing of Stage 3 will take place in September 2021.
Driver: Increase in Broadband and mobile speeds
Broadband speed is a crucial enabler of IP traffic. Broadband speed improvements result in increased consumption of high-bandwidth content and use of applications. The global average broadband speed is expected to grow twofold between 2020 and 2025, from 62.5 Mbps to >130 Mbps. Several factors influence the fixed broadband speed forecast, including the deployment and adoption of fiber-to-the-home (FTTH), high-speed DSL, and cable broadband adoption, as well as overall broadband penetration. Countries such as Japan, South Korea, and Sweden lead in terms of broadband speed largely because of their widespread deployment of FTTH. Currently, 5G technology standards are still in the development phase. However, in some of the developed nations, 5G has been deployed, which includes pre-standard 5G technologies using millimeter wave spectrum for low-latency, high-capacity fixed wireless broadband networks. Millimeter-wave frequencies enable the use of very narrow beamwidth antennas, allowing generated power to be precisely directed to where it is needed with a high-speed capacity. The unique characteristics of millimeter waves enable near-line-of-sight wireless networks and make point-to-multipoint technology possible, enabling a single transmitter to serve multiple transceivers at various locations.
Restraints: Low penetration power and adverse impact on the environment
While millimeter waves boast massive advantages over other radio frequencies, they also have some disadvantages. For example, millimeter waves are not capable of bouncing off physical objects. Obstacles such as tree branches and walls can interfere and absorb the transmission, and halt the signal. Additionally, millimeter waves are more expensive than other commonly used frequencies. This makes the technology almost inaccessible for smaller companies that do not have the finances. Currently, mobile network providers are focused on building millimeter wave-friendly 5G infrastructure. This includes setting up micro base stations in open land with technology that supports millimeter waves and redesigning the structure of devices that will be run using the 5G network.
Opportunities: Increase in use of 5G and millimeter-wave technology
In late 2018, the 5G Spec was approved by the 3GPP, the organization that oversees cellular standards. With this, the suppliers and hardware manufacturers are able to bring 5G to consumers. The completed specs encompass support for low-frequency (600 MHz and 700 MHz), mid-frequency (3.5 GHz), and high-frequency (50 GHz) spectrum. Facilitating the approval from 3GPP means that chip-makers started developing silicon-based parts that will work with 5G networks.
With the availability of equipment that supports high bandwidth, wireless networks would face heavy congestion over the next five years. This would drive the shift from the existing 3G and 4G technologies to 5G. The aggregate data rates supported by the 5G technology are expected to be 1,000 times and 100 times faster than the existing 3G and 4G data rates, respectively.
Challenges: Challenges associated with the physical properties of millimeter-wave
Millimeter waves open more spectrum. However, until recently, only a few electronic components were able to generate or receive millimeter waves, so the spectrum remained unused. Generating and receiving millimeter waves is a challenge, but the bigger challenge associated with these high frequencies is the traveling media. Other major challenges are atmospheric and free-space path loss, along with poor foliage penetration. Millimeter waves are governed by the same physics that govern the rest of the radio spectrum.
Frequency sources & related components accounted for a larger share of the millimeter wave technology market, by component, in 2020
The market for frequency sources & related components is projected to account for the largest share. The larger market share of frequency components is mainly due to the use of oscillators. The frequency sources and related components include oscillator source devices that generate 30 GHz to 300 GHz signals. The efficiency of signals generated from millimeter-wave systems depends on the nature of frequencies involved in the component manufacturing process.