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SMT & Inspection | July 14, 2010

Wireless R&D test equipment market zeroes in on long-term evolution technology

Wireless test equipment vendors have many technologies to choose from. Among them, long-term evolution (LTE) is clearly emerging as the favorite for its ability to power high-bandwidth networks that provide new, higher-capacity, and less expensive services and content types such as voice, video, data, wireless, and numerous multimedia applications.

LTE has been gaining more traction than even code division multiple access (CDMA)-based ultra mobile broadband (UMB). LTE has a definite cost advantage over UMB. "As most countries in the world use global system for mobile communication (GSM)-based networks, the evolution path of those networks, or LTE, generates better economies of scale for carriers," says Frost & Sullivan Industry Analyst Olga Yashkova. "Despite high-speed packet access’ (HSPA’s) ability to enable the delivery of streaming video, audio, and Internet data services, it is not good enough to be a true land line-last mile replacement option, which makes LTE a very attractive alternative to wireless operators." LTE’s closest technology rivals are evolved enhanced data GSM environment (EDGE) and worldwide interoperability for microwave access (WIMAX). 3G-compatible test equipment boosts the performance as well as the usability of data-driven applications and mobile station manufacturers are increasingly seeking such equipment to perform more testing for product quality. However, currently, there are more opportunities than funds available. Test vendors have to get their time-to-market spot on to succeed in these tough economic times. As 4G technologies are penetrating the market, R&D investments continue to stream in, but the wireless test equipment market for R&D has to stay ahead of the developments in the wireless industry. The market potential notwithstanding, the economic downturn considerably slowed down the growth of the market. Service providers and network equipment manufacturers (NEMs) deferred their purchase decisions, causing the overall market’s revenue growth to dip to 1.5 percent from 2008 to 2009. Moreover, consolidation among chipset and equipment manufacturers – partly due to the economic slowdown and partly due to the natural evolution of the market – curbed the demand for R&D wireless test equipment.
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