Antenna OEMs are seeing the fruits of the growth in in-building wireless, small cells and outdoor DAS and are responding with new products and increased distribution. For example, Radio Frequency Systems (RFS) experienced double-digit growth for several of its North American product lines in 2013, following a record-breaking year in 2012. The vendor responded by expanding its product line and doubling its nationwide distribution capability.
RFS booked 45 percent growth in 2013 for its in-building broadband wireless communications products, and has invested in product development in anticipation of additional growth in 2014, adding the LTE-ready I-ATO2-698/2700JPL PIM-certified omnidirectional antenna and the ICA LITE (ICA12-50JPLLW) ½-inch aluminum plenum-rated wideband coaxial cable.
Another rapidly growing segment for RFS in 2013 was the in-tunnel market, which included large deployments of RFS technology into major projects such as Phase 2 of Transit Wireless’ extensive Distributed Antenna System for the New York City subway (RFS announced its successful deployment during Phase 1 in 2012) and Phase 1 of BAI Canada’s project to build a shared wireless Wi-Fi and cellular infrastructure for Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) underground subway stations.
To support this growth, RFS has doubled its distribution centers nationwide with a new distribution center in Ontario, Calif., and expanded distribution via its partnership with KGP Logistics in Warsaw, Ind. Furthermore, RFS has expanded its installation services to support increasing deployments of HYBRIFLEX.
Wireless Sales Up at CommScope
CommScope, which completed an IPO last fall, also reported growth. Its wireless segment net sales increased 3 percent year over year to $553 million in the third quarter. The net sales increase was primarily driven by ongoing capital spending by U.S. wireless operators at macro base stations as well as robust deployment of small cell DAS solutions that support capacity and densification of the wireless network. The company reported lower wireless sales in the Asia Pacific region, which were offset by higher sales to a major Middle Eastern wireless operator. Wireless adjusted operating income rose 16 percent year over year to $116 million, or 21 percent of net sales.
Sales of tablets and smart phones, as well as the impact of BYOD, have created a greater need for a mobile Internet, according to President and CEO Eddie Edwards.
“Operators are deploying more cell sites and new technologies globally to meet this demand,” Edwards said. “We believe we are in the early innings of a long-term, global growth cycle in LTE, which includes coverage, capacity, optimization, small cell DAS solutions, backhaul and seamless in-building cellular.”
To help speed the deployment of DAS, CommScope launched the ION platform, which features integrated guidance and intelligence, enabling wireless network operators to design, plan, deploy and optimize a DAS more quickly and efficiently and at a lower total cost of ownership.
Late last fall, CommScope’s technical support team helped a U.S. carrier complete the first customer installation of the ION-U in a congested downtown area of Dallas as part of an outdoor coverage and capacity upgrade.
CommScope also branched into the concealment business with a family of equipment-integrated, modular solutions called Metro Cell Concealment Solutions, which hide the key RF path equipment in a structure that more easily meets zoning restrictions.