The doubling of the number of 5G macro base stations and the evolution of technology have brought about a room for double growth of base station antennas.

The doubling of the number of 5G macro base stations and the evolution of technology have brought about a room for double growth of base station antennas.
Ten times the growth of 5G key performance indicators requires the number of base stations to double to support. The three key efficiency requirements of 5G include spectrum utilization efficiency, energy efficiency, and cost efficiency.
Specifically, 5G’s demand for spectrum efficiency, energy efficiency, and cost efficiency is ten or more times higher, and key technologies accelerate catalysis.
As shown below, the 5G performance indicators are mainly from the user experience rate (bps), the connection number density (1/Km2), and the end-to-end delay (ms).
Among them, the user experience rate (bps) has been upgraded from 10 Mbit/s in the 4G era to 100 Mbit/s, which provides a comprehensive upgrade requirement for 5G network coverage capability.
According to the theoretical value calculation, the signal is propagated on the higher frequency spectrum, and the higher the signal loss, the higher the number of base stations required. From the perspective of continuous coverage, the number of 5G base stations may be 1.5-2 times that of 4G.
By the end of 2017, China has built 3.28 million 4G macro base stations. According to the conservative value of 1.5 times, the number of 5G base stations is at least 5 million.
Massive MIMO technology amplifies base station antenna requirements. From 2G to 4G, the base station antenna has undergone development stages such as integrated macro base station, baseband processing unit and radio remote module separation, MIMO antenna, active antenna, and Massive MIMO.
With the advent of the 4.5G and 5G eras, Massive MIMO technology was introduced, which directly led to three trends in the development of base station antennas: 1) passive antennas to active antennas; 2) fiber-optic replacement feeders; 3) RRH (radio-radio) The antenna is partially integrated.
As communication networks continue to evolve toward 5G, array antennas (multi-antenna space division multiplexing), multi-beam antennas (network densification), and multi-band antennas (spectral extension) will become the main types of base station antenna development in the future.
MIMO can make full use of space resources. By installing multiple transmit and receive antennas in the underlying physical device, the signal can be multi-transmitted and multi-received between multiple antennas, improving communication without increasing spectrum resources and transmit power. Quality and broadening the communication channel are key communication technologies in the post 4G era.
At present, MIMO has been continuously improved and strengthened in R11 and R12 of LTE. On the basis that traditional MIMO only supports 8 antenna ports, Bell Labs of the United States proposed Massive MIMO in 2010, and space freedom formed by using multiple antennas. Degree and effective multipath components greatly increase spectrum utilization and reliability.
The base station antenna investment ratio accounts for only about 2% of the entire wireless network, but its impact on the network indicators in the base station communication system exceeds 50%. Therefore, it has always played an important role in the evolution of communication technology.
Massive MIMO provides an important guarantee for system spectrum efficiency, user experience, and transmission reliability. At the same time, it can support more than 10 times the network capacity of 8×8 MIMO antennas, which can better meet the future massive connection requirements and geometry. The level of traffic demand is growing.
In general, a normal base station needs to be configured with a 3-plane antenna, and a 4G base station needs to be configured with 2×2 (ie, 2 receive antennas and 2 transmit antennas). In the future, with 5G landing, Massive MIMO base stations (128, 256 or even more) The large-scale application of multi-antennas will lead to an increase in the number of base station antennas (after excluding the difference between active and passive, the unit price will decrease relatively).
At the time of the upgrade of mobile communication systems, the demand for base station antennas in the base upstream is expected to double, and the corresponding market will rapidly expand. As shown below, in the beginning of 4G construction, the domestic antenna market will grow rapidly in 2013-2014, and 5G will come. In 2020-2021, this growth elasticity will be further amplified.
In addition, the technical requirements of 5G for millimeter waves have also promoted the replacement and number of mobile terminals and base station antennas. The development of the antenna in the active direction will drive the value of a single antenna to increase.
According to our estimates, the global base station antenna market in the 5G period may reach 700 billion yuan.
According to the above data, during the peak period of domestic 4G construction in 14~17 years, the total antenna market model is about 32 billion, corresponding to the newly built 4G base station of about 3.2 million, and the antenna value of about one base station is about 10,000 (3 antennas).
In the same period, the overseas market was about 13 billion US dollars, corresponding to 2 million 4G base stations. In the 5G era, the number of 5G base stations will be 1.5 to 2 times that of 4G.
The single-chip value of the 5G base station antenna is 3~4 times of 4G, two superpositions (not considering the increase of the number of single-base antennas), and the total antenna size of the 5G period is 4.5~8 times of 4G, corresponding to 5000~ The global market of 900 billion yuan, with a median value of 700 billion.
At the current stage, 4G low-frequency re-cultivation and overseas construction demand make up for the capital expenditure window, and the base station antenna market economy is still high.
Since the first closure of CDMA network services by Australian operators in 2007, the global boom in spectrum re-farming, such as AT&T, Telstra, Singapore Singtel and StarHub, will also close the GSM network. According to Ovum, by 22020, 2G networks will disappear across the globe.
At present, China’s spectrum re-cultivation conditions are gradually maturing. With the improvement and penetration of 4G coverage, the conversion of 2G and 3G users to 4G users has reached the later stage. In addition, the policy and core networks have also responded positively to spectrum re-cultivation.
The spectrum re-farming will promote the large-scale transformation and upgrade of the operator’s communication base station, driving the demand growth of the base station side.
In 2017, with China Unicom’s re-farming of the 900M frequency band and China Telecom’s re-farming of the 800M frequency band, the domestic base station antenna market declined not much.
In 2018, China Telecom entered the 800M re-cultivation and deepening year, focusing on the “five highs and one land” to achieve accurate construction; China Unicom will increase the implementation of 900M re-cultivation after completing the mixed reform, providing strong traffic to the base station antenna market. support.
The 4G construction in developing countries is in the ascendant, and the overseas base station antenna market is vast.
In fact, developing countries such as Asia-Pacific, the Middle East and North Africa are currently in the 4G construction period, and the corresponding demand is booming. In India, for example, BhartiAirtel, its largest telecom operator, has seen its capital expenditures rise continuously in recent years, and 4G construction is at its peak. Accordingly, the global base station antenna market space is still large.
In addition, the three major operators have all built the NB-IOT network, and the demand for the corresponding antennas is strong. For example, China Mobile completed the bidding for 1.11 million NB-IOT antennas in 2017, corresponding to the goal of its 400,000 NB-IOT base station construction.
As both Unicom and Telecom will build a nationally-covered NB-IOT network that is comparable in size to mobile, it is expected that large-scale tenders will be ushered in 2018 and 2019.
Moreover, in the post-cycle era of 4G, multi-frequency antennas are often used to meet the requirements of low-frequency re-cultivation and network evolution. The corresponding smart antennas have higher unit prices and, to a certain extent, fill the decline in demand.
For example, in September 2018, China Mobile launched the “4+4+8+8” independent ESC smart antenna product centralized procurement (first batch), and the estimated project purchase size was about 140,900.
“4488” antenna can support 900M, 1800M, FA band 8T8R and D band 8T8R at the same time, maximizing the saving of space and TCO, but its cost is also high, between 6000~8000 yuan, while the price of conventional 4G base station antenna In the 3000~4000 yuan. Therefore, China Mobile’s total purchase amount exceeded 900 million, which boosted the confidence of the industry.
Overall, at the current stage, the domestic base station antenna market is expected to remain stable, and after the gradual start of 5G construction in the second half of 2019, it will usher in a new round of rise.
5G ultra-dense networking technology stimulates small base stations to add billions of new markets
5G performance improvement also depends on ultra-dense networking to improve spatial reuse.
In order to solve the problem of 1000 times of mobile data traffic growth and 10-100 times of user experience rate increase, in addition to increasing spectrum bandwidth and adopting advanced wireless technologies to improve spectrum utilization, the most effective method is still to enhance the deployment of encrypted cell sites. Spatial reuse.
In the conventional wireless communication mode, the base station is usually deployed in the manner of cell splitting. However, as the coverage radius is gradually reduced, cell splitting is difficult to perform. It is necessary to densely deploy low-power base stations in indoor and outdoor hotspot areas, that is, ultra-dense networking.
Typical applications for ultra-dense networking include: offices, dense homes, dense neighborhoods, campuses, large gatherings, stadiums, subways, apartments, and more.
The base station can be classified into a macro base station, a micro base station, a pico base station, and a femto base station according to the coverage radius and the transmission power. The macro base station has a transmission power of several tens of watts or more and a coverage radius of more than 2 km.
The hotspot coverage is more suitable for small base stations, including micro base stations, pico base stations and flying base stations. The power is only in the milliwatt to watt level, and the coverage radius is between ten meters and tens of meters. The hardware cost of a small base station is much lower than that of a macro base station, and is more suitable for indoor or outdoor big data hotspot areas.
As the density of cell deployment increases, ultra-dense networking will face many new technical challenges, such as interference, mobility, site, transmission resources, and deployment costs. Therefore, how to deploy and maintain flexible, interference management, suppression, and access And backhaul, joint design and community virtualization technology are important research directions for ultra-dense networking.
The higher the frequency of the electromagnetic wave, the shorter the wavelength, and the weaker the diffraction ability. At the same time, due to the penetrating ability, the signal will lose energy during the penetration process. Therefore, the transmission distance of the high-frequency electromagnetic wave is close, and the transmission loss is large. Intensive deployment, reduced base station size requires higher integration of antennas and filters.
The ultra-dense networking opens the small base station market space of 100 billion.
On the one hand, because the miniaturized base station is easy to deploy and easy to carry, it can be flexibly deployed according to the place of use, and at the same time, the power consumption is low and the cost is low, and it is easy to meet the characteristics of massive interconnection and mass deployment of the future Internet of Things, and the small base station has the problem of filling the network coverage gap. Improve the quality of network service.
On the other hand, in the future, base stations with small size, multi-standard, and heterogeneous access will have more room for development, and promotion is a trend, and it is even expected to replace the single wireless standard router of existing WiFi.
From this perspective, there are opportunities for small base stations in the future. The largest scene of 5G application millimeter wave is indoors, which makes consumers increase the demand for large bandwidth, thereby increasing the demand of small base stations. According to a recent survey by market research firm ABIResearch, the global indoor small base station market will reach $1.8 billion in 2021.
According to our estimates, the market size of 5G small base stations may be 250 billion yuan.
Assuming that the coverage distance of a single macro base station is 300 meters, the coverage area needs to cover the corresponding hotspot area in the city with a small base station. The coverage of the small base station is 30m. The area needs 100 small base stations, and the hotspot area may only occupy Up to 25% of the coverage area, so about 25 small base stations are needed.
According to the calculation that the number of 5G base stations is 1.5 times that of 4G, the number of 5G base stations in China is about 5 million, and the theoretical demand for the number of small base stations is 125 million. According to the average price of 2000 yuan/set of small base stations, the market space is 250 billion yuan. .
Small base stations have been commercialized in 21 provinces and cities nationwide, and the scale of operators is coming soon. As shown in the following figure, in the 4G era, there have been 21 small cities and towns testing water base stations in the country, but the overall purchase volume is not large. It is estimated that the overall purchase volume will not exceed 500,000 units.
Previously, China Mobile had conducted a collection in 2015, with a scale of about 96,000.
After three years, in August 2018, China Mobile once again opened the centralized purchase of the leather base station. This time, it collected more than 870,000 units, mainly based on 4G extended-type leather base stations, exceeding the provincial total purchases over the years. It is expected that this number of purchases will continue to rise sharply in the 5G era.