How the RF front-end world is being ruled in the 5G era

An article written by Cédric Malaquin and Antoine Bonnabel from Yole Développement (Yole) for MICROWAVE JOURNAL – When 4G was introduced 10 years ago, it was a technological revolution. The consumer could access the Internet with a decent connection as compared with 3G. Then came apps on smartphones that made life much easier. As a result, the smartphone market started to boom. Now consumers are living with their smartphones and are using them more and more to communicate with their peers, book a restaurant, do online shopping and much more. They have become a utility that everyone now possesses.

5G: Necessity to Sustain Use of Smartphones

Many sources report that mobile data consumption is increasing exponentially and should exceed 160 EB/month by 2025 from 35 EB/month, currently. This estimation concurs with what has been seen in the past in terms of data consumption increase but this load is not sustainable on a 4G network. That’s where 5G comes into play. Of course, 5G brings some benefit for the consumer with increased download speed and there will be some new use cases over time, but the main reason for rolling out 5G now is the network capacity that needs to be augmented far more than can be done with 4G. As a result, countries with high mobile data consumption profiles, such as South Korea, China and USA, have been first to build their 5G networks. In terms of 5G service adoption, China is far ahead with over 75 million 5G subscribers as of June 2020 (see Figure 1), driving most of the 2020 global 5G device volume. However, many countries should soon follow, rapidly increasing worldwide 5G subscriptions.

Other interest in 5G lies in revenue diversification for telecom infrastructure players, including the much-hyped connected objects through what is called massive Machine Type Communication (mMTC). mMTC is expected to be used to connect everything at a huge scale, but while network operators are preparing for this connected object wave to come with 5G modules, most of the 5G device volume today is coming from smartphones.

By the end of 2020, 5G smartphones will have reached over 200 Mu (see Figure 2) with two thirds of the market in China. The COVID-19 pandemic has driven the smartphone market down by 9.5% in 2020, and this sharp decrease will take time to recover from, as an interesting new trend is an increase in smartphone lifespan. In our estimation, we expect the market to recover from the pandemic by 2023, with 5G increasing its share of the smartphone ecosystem, reaching over 50% of the smartphones sold by 2024… Full article