5G will be taking off with the 3.5 GHz band playing a key role
During the last months of 2018, the US regulators are considering a key set of rules associated with priority access license to spectrum in the in the 3.5 GHz band spectrum. In October, the FCC announced that it will b e creating 15 channels wi thin the 3.550-3.700 GHz band (previously solely reserved for U.S. naval radar use) – 7 will be auctioned to “priority access licenses” and 8 will be offered for general access. The Navy will get priority across the band wherever and whenever it needs it. Outside of the US, 3.5 GHz is seen as prime mid-band spectrum for 5G and auctions are expected to start at the end of 2019.
The demand for RF over fiber will continue to rise
The growing demand for RFoF is driven by important features that RFoF solutions deliver, such as a very low signal loss over several kilometer without any requirement of amplification. This makes RFoF appealing for defense applications, since maintaining flat frequency response across the whole frequency band & flexibility along with the feature of being lightweight is crucial. Last but not least, RFoF is quite cost effective compared to high-end coaxial cables and the need to implement slope compensation amplifiers.
Research facilities and testing labs will drive the demand for Optical Delay Lines
For any research facility or testing lab, one of the most critical elements of experiments or tests is the optical delay line. ODLs will be part of a growing number of applications such as phased array antennas, optical time-division multiplexing, optical coherence tomography (OCT), microwave photonics, fiber sensors, and optical interferometry.
Customers will demand a larger variety of enclosures
When it comes to RFoF and ODL solutions, one-size-fit-all does not apply. Customers want the enclosure as well as the solution to fit their needs. For example, for installation near the antenna where many links come in parallel, the customer needs a large outdoor enclosure that houses e.g., Mux, a hub, N-type, QPC Qlink / MPO PS 28 to 5VDC. But when calibrating radar systems, the customer want a mini ruggedized enclosure. This means that RFoF and ODL providers must be able to offer their solutions with a choice from various enclosures.
Customers will demand increased interoperability
Customers want the Tx or Rx units that they purchase from a new supplier to communicate with their existing equipment. Any new Tx that they purchase should work seamlessly with their existing (third party) Rx (and vice versa). When budgets will limited, this kind of compatibility will become a main requirement. Providers must ensure that in cases like this, their solutions work seamlessly with existing equipment provided by other companies.