Emerging RF Technologies

Published - Dec 2003| Analyst - Andrew McWilliams| Code - IFT057A
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Report Highlights

  • The total U.S. market for products and processes using RF technologies was an estimated $24.1 billion in 2003. The market, rising at an average annual growth rate (AAGR) of 33%, is expected to reach $100.5 billion in 2008.
  • In 2003, HDTV had greater sales ($7.8 billion) than any other emerging RF technology, followed by advanced 2.5G/3G cellular ($3 billion), RF plasma applications ($3.3 billion) and GPS ($4.5 billion).
  • Advanced cellular has by far, the highest projected growth rate (63.7% AAGR), and by 2008 is expected to have surpassed HDTV with $36.2 billion in projected sales.
  • Digital radio has the second-highest projected AAGR of 58.6%, with sales reaching $4.1 billion by 2008. Wireless networking has the thirdhighest (30.7%), with sales of $16.3 billion expected in 2008.


RF (radio frequency) technologies use electromagnetic radiation or energy in the 15 kHz to 300 gHz range to accomplish a wide range of objectives, including broadcasting, two-way communications, manufacturing applications, and security and access control, to name only a few. Many RF technologies, such as radiotelephone or analog TV broadcasting, are mature with slowly growing markets. At the other extreme are recently introduced technologies, such as high-definition TV and wireless networking, that still are in their infancy but appear poised for rapid growth.

Existing studies of emerging RF technologies tend to focus on a single market segment, such as cellular communications or radio frequency identification (RFID). What generally has been lacking until now is a comprehensive survey of new RF technologies that compares their market potential and analyzes their importance to the future of the RF industry as a whole.

This timely BCC study describes and analyzes the market for new and emerging RF technologies and applications. The economic importance of emerging RF technologies extends far beyond sales of equipment and related professional services. RF supports and makes possible entire sectors of the economy, such as the wireless telecommunications industry. The services these sectors provide to end users are crucial to the efficient functioning of a modern economy.

RF technology also is important from regulatory, health, environmental and national security perspectives. The increasing demand for RF bandwidth forces telecommunications regulators to consider ways of meeting the demand by opening new frequencies to the private sector and using regulatory or market mechanisms to allocate the available bandwidth among competing classes of users.


The report contains:

  • An overview of the RF industry
  • Analyses of new RF technologies and applications
  • Market size and segmentation, 2000 through 2008
  • Market drivers and constraints
  • Detailed market projections by market segments, through 2008
  • Analysis of industry performance and structure (sales, market shares, recent M&A transactions)
  • Discussion of the long-term outlook for the U.S. RF industry.


The findings and conclusions of this report are based on information gathered from all types of participants in the RF market, including manufacturers, distributors, end-users, consultants, and integrators. Interview data were combined with information gathered through an extensive review of secondary sources such as trade publications, trade associations, company literature, and online databases to produce the baseline market estimates contained in this report.

With 2002 as a baseline, market projections for each market segment were developed for through 2008. The projections are based on a combination of a consensus among the primary contacts combined with our understanding of the key market drivers and their impact from a historical and analytical perspective. The analytical methodologies used to generate the market estimates are described in detail in the section on Detailed Market Projections.

All dollar projections presented in this report are in 2002 constant dollars.


Andrew McWilliams, the author of this report, is a partner in the Boston-based international technology and marketing consulting firm, 43rd Parallel LLC. He is also the author of numerous other Communications Co., Inc. studies, including several that analyze various RF products and applications, such as G-267 Global Markets for Warehouse Management Systems and Related Services; C-140N Trends in the Noninvasive and Minimally Invasive Medical Device Market; and B-182 Medical Robotics and Computer Assisted Surgery Market.

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