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2020 |2019 |
Sam Benzacar, the well-known head of Anatech Electronics, has boldly proclaimed his predictions for the microwave industry in 2019. This deviates from his traditional year-end newsletter that presented a wrap-up of the previous year's happenings. Filter manufacturers like Anatech love RF spectrum growth and crowding because it provides continuing opportunity to engineer solutions that help make co-existence possible. The downside of these dense operational environments is that spectral masks get more and more complicated and difficult to comply with in order to meet certification standards, which places increasingly difficult requirements on filters. That goes for both transmitters which must not exceed power output limits and for receivers that must be able to function within electromagnetically noisy areas. Signal processing does a lot of the heavy lifting, but ultimately physical filters make or break a wireless system.
December 2019 Update: See Sam's "My Predictions for 2019: The Reckoning."
A Word from Sam Benzacar
The RF and Microwave Industry in 2019: My Predictions
By Sam Benzacar
Since I first began writing this column in 2008 (no doesn't seem like "just yesterday"), so much has happened in the and microwave industry and high-tech in general. Back in 2008, the FCC just gave wireless carriers the green light to decommission their analog networks, Apple introduced the iPhone 3, Google released the Chrome browser, Windows 7 was about to be released, Amazon began selling the Kindle, and netbooks were the rage.
Now, the cellular industry is promising gigabit-per-second downstream speeds (and, incredibly, using millimeter wavelengths), the iPhone has reached its tenth generation with a flagship phone that costs as much as a decent laptop computer (an iPhone 3 with 16 Gbytes of RAM cost $199), Chrome is now the browser, Windows 10 has been around for nearly 4 years, I'm on my second Kindle Paperwhite, and the netbook is, thankfully, dead. With a decade of end-of-the-year columns under my belt, I've decided that this time, I'm going to make some predictions rather than taking the easy route and summing up the previous year.
5G: Last year, I wondered if the huge challenges of using millimeter wavelengths would prove to be too much for the cellular industry. I'm still not sure about that, but we'll soon find out as the first "5G" smartphones with millimeter-wave capability are coming next year and the carriers are feverishly deploying small cells to serve them. I still haven't come to grips (no pun intended) with how well millimeter-wave signals are going to propagate with your hand around the phone. The most visible application for 5G will be fixed wireless access (FWA) as competition for cable with speeds of 1 Gb/s, maybe more. My prediction: The first 5G smartphones will roll out from some vendors (but not Apple, which is wisely waiting until 2020) with less-than-spectacular results, and FWA will be available in some places from Verizon and AT&T.
IoT: Home automation is spreading its tentacles beyond applications like HVAC, smart locks, and lighting: I was just at Home Depot and the shelves were full of Bluetooth-connected Christmas decorations that you control with an app, for what that's worth. Amazon and Google are on the IoT bandwagon in a big way, and it won't be long before every car will have Alexa, Google Assistant, or both as optional and ultimately standard features. But this is chump change for IoT because "smart" cities make this look like a science project, and they are already here. Interestingly enough, Spain seems to be leading this charge, with everything from garbage can sensors to parking and a lot more. My prediction: IoT will begin to deliver on its promise in a big way this year.
Defense: Until 1990, this was the market for RF and microwave components, and it's been steady business over the years. Now, DoD is in full-development mode owing to technological advances in Russia and China. The Army, in particular, needs a decent solution for battlefield communications as well as a huge investment in EW. My prediction: 2019 will be a very good year for field and waves.
Wi-Fi: 5G needs more backhaul and Wi-Fi is a (and perhaps the) solution. For the rest of us, routers for 802.11ax (now called Wi-Fi 6 with downstream rates 37% faster than 802.11ac) are already shipping and the technology should be in smartphones later next year. Not to be outdone at millimeter-wavelengths, there's 802.11ad (Wi-Gig) and 802.11ay that operate at 2.4, 5, and 60 GHz to deliver downstream rates of nearly 7 Gb/s. My prediction: 802.11ax products will be offered by all major router manufacturers in a few months, and later in 2019 or possibly 2020 it will be joined by Wi-Gig, which should actually be called Wi-Fi 7 as the Wi-Fi Alliance has finally decided to make various Wi-Fi permutations easier to understand.
ATSC 3.0: The next generation of over-the-air TV broadcast is almost here, and it's nothing like what's available now. My prediction: Cord cutting will increasingly combine this with broadband, putting and even bigger dent in cable subscriptions.
Rural Broadband: Millions of people in the U.S. and Canada have nothing approaching "real" broadband, except for services provided by Wireless Internet Service Providers (WISPs). My prediction: The government is throwing money at wireless carriers to make serving rural areas fairly profitable, FWA eliminates the need to lay huge amounts of fiber, and IoT is a new market opportunity. The result: More rural areas will finally have broadband service and WISPs will need to up their game.
There you have it. Next year at this time, we'll all be able to see how well my predictions hold up.
So… all of us here at Anatech Electronics wish everyone best wishes for a wonderful holiday season, and good health, happiness, and prosperity for the New Year!
Check out Our Filter Products
Cavity Band Pass Filters LC Band Pass Filters Cavity Bandstop/Notch Filter
About Anatech Electronics
Anatech Electronics, Inc. (AEI) specializes in the design and manufacture of standard and custom RF and microwave filters and other passive components and subsystems employed in commercial, industrial, and aerospace and applications. Products are available from an operating frequency range of 10 kHz to 30 GHz and include cavity, ceramic, crystal, LC, and surface acoustic wave (SAW), as well as power combiners/dividers, duplexers and diplexers, directional couplers, terminations, attenuators, circulators, EMI filters, and lightning arrestors. The company's custom products and capabilities are available at www.anatechelectronics.com.
Anatech Electronics, Inc.
70 Outwater Lane
Garfield, NJ 07026
Posted December 27, 2018