Wireless products accounted for 79% of the Group’s sales in 2014.
The wireless market covers electronic devices that communicate wirelessly.
This includes but is not limited to mobile phones, smartphones, mobile networks, WiFi, smart metering, satellite navigation, and a plethora of other connected devices.
The wireless communications market has grown rapidly in recent years reflecting the increasing adoption of wireless technology, coupled with the need for an increased compound semiconductor content to support greater sophistication of mobile devices.
Whilst handset replacement cycles have slowed, innovations such as wearable devices are expected to reignite the desire to upgrade connected devices such as smartphones. Coupled with the widely held view that the Internet of Everything will see 50 billion connected devices by 2020, the overall wireless market is expected to continue to grow with the global roll out of LTE, 4G, 5G and the evolution of WiFi.
Smartphone shipments exceeded one billion units in 2014 and are expected to grow to more than 1.5 billion in 2017 (Source: IDC). This growth will be driven by new features, apps, social networking, entertainment and location based services.
High-speed connectivity and added functionality drive the requirement for the advanced properties offered by compound semiconductor epiwafers. The global roll-out of wireless broadband networks such as 4G/LTE devices increasingly rely on compound semiconductor content with 5G expected to demand a quantum leap in speed, power and efficiency.
The migration to new WiFi standards is another major driver for RF components.
802.11ac WiFi standard operates at 5GHz rather than the 2.6GHz currently used. The higher frequency which greatly increases the range and reliability of WiFi networks will further raise the demand for compound semiconductor based RF devices.
Growth in the compound semiconductor content in smartphones will be driven by the need for more radio frequency functionality and greater complexity in wireless circuitry but will be partly mitigated by improved efficiencies and a drive towards reduced component footprints.
IQE's wireless division also supplies products into basestation applications with gallium nitride (GaN) increasing market share in infrastructure applications.
Globally, wireless communications infrastructures are supported by an extensive and growing optical fibre network that also rely upon IQE's photonic components.