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Apple’s late adoption of 5G does not mean much

by on23 October 2020

Challenges remain says IDTechEx

Fruity cargo cult Apple’s late integration of 5G into all four newly announced iPhones does not mean that the tech is suddenly going to get popular according to IDTechEx.

IDTechEx warns, that even with the blessing of Apple, many challenges await before 5G becomes ubiquitous.

While the industry is praying that a wave of 5G smartphones will encourage the demand for 5G services and accelerate the deployment of 5G base stations in the coming years. The IDTechEx report, “5G Technology, Market and Forecasts 2020-2030”, said the technology still has a few issues that need ironing out.

The report forecasts 430K new installation of 5G base station globally in 2020 and such number will boost to over four million in 2030.

But power consumption is a concern as 5G signal will consume significantly higher power than the 4G smartphone.

This will have severe knock-on effects for battery life & management, thermal management, and mobile lifespan. This problem will become obvious for the models in the US, which support millimeter wave (mmWave), the higher frequency version of 5G (24-40 GHz).

The IDTechEx report, “Thermal Management for 5G”, highlights the rapidly growing market of the thermal interface material (TIM) for both 5G infrastructure and mobile phones. New power amplifier semiconductor technology such as GaN and die attach materials such as pressure-less silver sintering will also benefit from the rise of mmWave 5G.

Another challenge for 5G technologies, especially for mmWave 5G, is the transmission loss. The IDTechEx report, “Low-loss Materials for 5G 2021-2031”, points out that low-loss materials and more integrated design for antennas and RF modules are becoming essential for 5G.

One example is PTFE materials, which has demonstrated their excellent performance at high-frequency applications, and now the demand is likely to increase due to the 5G market.

PTFE based high-frequency materials are expensive and can present challenges in printed circuit board (PCB) production or advanced packaging process.

There is a race to develop new materials as an alternative to PTFE, such as modified thermoset materials, Polyphenylene Oxide (PPO), hydrocarbon or even polyimide aerogel. “Low-loss Materials for 5G 2021-2031” characterises the competition landscape and performance benchmarking for low-loss materials targeting the 5G market.

With profitable business models and killer applications starting to emerge, 5G is expected to be one of the largest and fastest-growing markets. The entrance of Apple into the 5G competition will for sure boost the investment from telecoms and encourage faster adoption of new materials and technologies to tackle the remaining challenges, the report said.

Last modified on 23 October 2020
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