As LTE progresses to more advanced versions such as 3GPP standard LTE-Advanced, LTE-Advanced Pro and the recently marketed Gigabit LTE, ABI Research expects that MIMO  will become an increasingly important part of mobile network operators’ options in their evolution to 5G (officially known as IMT 2020).
While MIMO has not delivered on its promises so far, no doubt exists that the technology will become a foundational building block for mobile networks in the evolution to 4G/5G, and advanced antenna systems will receive increasing attention and research and development (R&D) by both vendors and MNOs.
Advanced antenna systems, including complex passive antennas and large-scale active antennas, will become part of the roadmap to advanced LTE and 5G, according to ABI Research.
Note 1. Long term evolution (LTE) is based on Multiple Input Multiple Output (MIMO)-Orthogonal frequency-division multiplexing (OFDM) and continues to be developed by the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP).
OFDM is a frequency-division multiplexing (FDM) scheme used as a digital multi-carrier modulation method. A large number of closely spaced orthogonal sub-carrier signals are used to carry data on several parallel data streams or channels.
LTE Advanced (true 4G before the term was hijacked by marketing heads) adds support for picocells, femtocells, and multi-carrier channels up to 100 MHz wide. LTE has been embraced by both GSM/UMTS and CDMA operators.
ABI Research thinks that Massive MIMO will be a key feature of 5G and deploying advanced MIMO for 4G-LTE is a long-term investment which will prepare the ground for the deployment of the next generation of networks.
“While MIMO has not delivered on its promises so far, we are left with no doubt that the technology will become a foundational building block for mobile networks in the evolution of 4G and 5G and advanced antenna systems will receive increasing attention and R&D by both vendors and MNOs,” says Nick Marshall, Research Director at ABI Research. “We expect increasing acquisition activities in the antenna market, particularly involving MIMO technology.”
Overall the installed base of MIMO-enabled LTE antennas will grow by more than double worldwide from 2017 to 2021 to reach almost 9 million, with the Asia Pacific region outpacing this with a growth rate of three times. The Asia Pacific region will grow to represent most of the market by 2021. Although the MIMO-enabled LTE platform retains the largest installed base through 2021, growing by a factor of almost two times, it is the MIMO-Enabled LTE-Advanced platform growing at a faster rate and MIMO-enabled LTE-Advanced Pro at almost six times which rise rapidly to match the scale of the earlier MIMO-enabled LTE platform. The cellular antenna market forms a very dynamic and innovative ecosystem with many vendors including Amphenol, Comba, CommScope, Huawei, Kathrein and RFS all competing to include these advanced multi-antenna features,
“Advanced antenna systems including complex passive antennas and large scale massive MIMO active antennas will become part of the roadmap to advanced LTE and 5G,” concludes Marshall. “The need for active antennas when MIMO becomes more advanced will also change the market map, which has largely depended on passive antennas for previous generations.”
These findings are from ABI Research’s “Evolution of MIMO in LTE Networks“ report. This report is part of the company’s Mobile Networks Service research service, which includes research, data, and analyst insights.
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ABI Research stands at the forefront of technology market intelligence, providing business leaders with comprehensive research and consulting services to help them implement informed, transformative technology decisions. Founded more than 25 years ago, the company’s global team of senior and long-tenured analysts delivers deep market data forecasts, analyses, and teardown services. ABI Research is an industry pioneer, proactively uncovering ground-breaking business cycles and publishing research 18 to 36 months in advance of other organizations. For more information, visit www.abiresearch.com.
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