Market analyst Earl Lum estimates that shipments of fronthaul optical transceiver (OTRX) modules declined 8 percent in 2016, mirroring the trend in remote radio unit (RRU) shipments. He is forecasting that the global fronthaul OTRX module market will see shipments bottom in 2019, while revenues bottom in 2018, as the transition to 4.5G, 4.9G and 5G pulls the industry into its next growth cycle.

Revenue for the fronthaul OTRX module market will reach $630 million by 2021, driven by volume shipments of 25G and 100G OTRX solutions supporting massive MIMO 5G networks.

“While the wireless industry continues to wait for 5G networks to be deployed, the RRU migration to 4 x 4 MIMO RRUs and massive MIMO antenna radio systems for LTE networks and 5G networks is driving a major data rate upgrade transition within the fronthaul market. We forecast that the mobile network migration towards 4.5G LTE-Advanced Pro will provide demand pull for 6G OTRX modules in support of 4 x 4 MIMO using CPRI Option 5/OBSAI Option 4 data rates, while massive MIMO solutions will require 25 to 100G of fronthaul bandwidth in support of higher order MIMO, carrier aggregation and larger channel sizes.” — Earl Lum

Lum’s market assessment and forecast are contained in the first edition of the report Global Fronthaul Optical Transceiver (OTRX) Modules Market Analysis and Forecast, 2017-2021, published by his firm EJL Wireless Research.

EJL Wireless Research provides proprietary market analysis and consulting services covering the wireless technology ecosystem, focusing on the vertical elements such as telecommunication standards evolution, global and regional regulatory issues, spectrum availability, mobile operators and mobile infrastructure equipment manufacturers. The firm also provides horizontal analysis across the technology suppliers, i.e., RF semiconductors, components and subsystems.