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What’s Driving the RF Components Market?

Aug. 22, 2022
Rapidly proliferating smart-home technology and the rise of wireless-equipped industrial robots will fuel steady growth in the RF components market.

As with just about every industry under the sun, the COVID-19 pandemic certainly took its toll on the RF/microwaves market. Looking back especially to 2020, national regulatory bodies around the globe went into lockdown mode in hopes of stemming the COVID tide. As a result, international trade barriers and supply-chain disruptions loomed large and severely impacted the global market for RF components. The recovery has proceeded in fits and starts ever since.

But fast-forward to today, and the outlook is significantly rosier. According to a report by Global Market Insights (GMI), the RF components market bounced back nicely in 2021, exceeding $15 billion with an anticipated compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of over 16% from 2022 to 2028, by which time we’ll be looking at a $40 billion market. That’s a rather healthy outlook.

When GMI says “RF components,” they’re talking about power amplifiers, antennas, switches, multiplexers, filters, modulator/demodulators, and transistors and diodes. But where is all that growth in demand for such components expected to come from?

A good portion of it will arise from the deepening penetration of industrial robotics and automation across the manufacturing and processing sectors. The International Federation of Robotics estimates that by the fourth quarter of 2021, there were around 3 million industrial robots at work in factories worldwide. The preponderance of those robots, and those to come in future smart factories, are outfitted with RF controllers, radar modules, IoT sensors, and RFID chipsets to facilitate remote monitoring and control.

But the biggest factor in the RF component market’s projected upswing is consumer electronics, which accounted for about 40% of revenues in 2021 with a CAGR outlook of 17% through 2028. We can’t seem to get enough of smartphones, tablets, laptops, and wearables, all of which require antennas, filters, multiplexers, and amplifiers to achieve high-quality wireless connectivity. Look for the proliferation of smart-home technology to push a lot of that growth, too.

Another factor in this expected surge, of course, is the ongoing buildout of 5G infrastructure. These days, the bulk of that buildout is happening in the Asia-Pacific region. The Chinese government’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology says that the country’s telecom operators have already installed some 1.3 million 5G base stations to support about 497 million 5G users. Europe and North America will catch up before long.

Which RF components comprise most of the market progression? Well, in 2021, power amplifiers had a 25% share of the RF components market. PAs are seeing rapid technology advances in selectivity, sensitivity, and signal-to-noise ratio, which is spurring growth in segments such as electronic-warfare systems, public safety radio systems, and military radios.

The RF component market leaders—think vendors such as Analog Devices, Broadcom, Infineon, NXP, Qorvo, STMicroelectronics, TDK, and Texas Instruments—will remain in the vanguard, thanks to their robust R&D efforts.

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