New market research from ABI Research anticipates that shipments of next-generation, 300 Mbps LTE baseband modems will surge higher in coming years, driven by the advent of next-generation Cat6 chips from mobile chipset suppliers.
Global shipments of second-generation Cat4 LTE baseband modems, which provide mobile device users up to 150 Mbps of bandwidth, just barely exceeded 42 million units in 2013, according to ABI’s Mobile Device Semiconductors and LTE and 5G market research services.
With the advent of a next generation of mobile chips with double the speed, ABI forecasts cumulative shipments of Cat6 chips – largely for the smartphone market – to exceed 700 million by year-end 2019.
“Although a number of chipset suppliers have announced their Cat6 basebands, mobile operators are not yet launching commercial networks that will allow users to enjoy mobile broadband speeds exceeding 150 Mbps. An exception to this is SK Telecom which recently launched an LTE-Advanced service, offering speeds up to 225 Mbps,” Malik Saadi, practice director at ABI Research, noted in a press release.
Qualcomm has been unrivaled as the leading vendor of chips for mobile devices for successive generations of smartphones and other mobile devices, ABI highlights. The component vendor”s market leading position may well be challenged with the emergence of next-gen Cat6 mobile chipsets, however, ABI says.
Looking out to 2016 and beyond, ABI expects Cat4 LTE chips will grow to account for most of worldwide mobile chip shipments. Shipments of Cat4 LTE chips will come to make up most unit shipments after 2016, attaining a market share of 55 percent that year, ABI forecasts. Previous generation Cat3 LTE chips “will remain used in cost-sensitive LTE smartphones over the next few years but their market share is expected to be below 13 percent by 2019,” according to ABI.
LTE-A Deployments are a Key Driver
Increasing deployments of LTE-Advanced by mobile network operators is seen as the key driver of growing demand for the latest Cat6 mobile chips. “[T]hrough the use of carrier aggregation, mobile devices will increasingly accommodate high-bandwidth modems, notably Cat6,” ABI states in its press release. The market research company forecasts Cat6 chips will be found in nearly 3.6 million mobile devices by year-end 2014.
That number will increase steadily over the next five years, exceeding 347 million units by 2019. That would represent 24 percent of the total LTE market, according to ABI. ABI believes mobile chips with downlink speeds surpassing 300 Mbps won’t be seen in commercial mobile devices until 2017, with their share of the market remaining “small in the foreseeable future.”