Wireless data services
finally start taking off
OYSTER BAY, N.Y. -- The approach to digital cellular data has been a fragmented one, but there is finally some evidence that the wireless data market is about to bloom.
The improving outlook was cited in a new study made by Allied Business Intelligence (ABI), a market research firm based here. It concludes that 3G (third generation) wireless services are now beginning to emerge.
"With GPRS (general packet radio service, a GSM service for packet switching) going up in much of Western Europe, and truncated services such as those based on WAP (wireless application protocol, a software interface standard) gaining considerable momentum worldwide, there is a data market finally at hand," declares Larry Swasey, ABI vice president of communications research who authored the report.
"As 3G radio-channel-element upgrades take place and data strategies are placed into mobile wireless networks, the handset will become a much more valuable tool," he predicts.
The pace is picking up fast. Some 37 operators have made WAP announcements as of January, according to the market research firm. The competitive nature of most wireless markets was expected to force most of the other operators to deploy truncated access services. Most handset makers already have promised to have WAP-based handsets on the market this year, ABI notes. WAP handsets first hit the market last year.
Actual direct Internet access to the handset will become available to more than 100 million users this year, ABI estimates. And truncated access methods will be accessible to hundreds of millions more during the year.
By 2005, there will be more than 240 million data users, up from 26 million this year, according to the study. Direct Internet access will be a popular business tool and a consumer application for high-end adapters, ABI says. About the only limiting factor, ABI says, may be the production of GPRS handsets, which aren't due out until the end of 2000.
The Asia-Pacific region will lead the way into the data market. Competition already is strong. After Japanese operator DoCoMo attracted millions of users with its i-mode offering, Japanese carriers DDI and IDO quickly launched a competitive CDMA-based data service.
Another rapidly emerging market is Western Europe. This comes from the area's big GSM (Global System for Mobile communications) base as well as from the heavy usage of wireless phones in this market. As a result, Western Europe will account for about 10% of the global data market this year. Its share will rise close to one-third in 2004, according to the study.
Getting off to the slowest start is North and South America. Data usage will begin rising after 2002 when 1XRTT (CDMA2000 effort) and EDGE strategies will be launched by leading CDMA and TDMA carriers. And by 2005, digital data services in the Americas will account for nearly 40% of the global market, ABI predicts.
Array IC packages
move into main stream
SAN JOSE -- Despite its advantages, the array IC package market has been slow to take off. The main reason for this has been its high cost, including that for solder joint inspection.
But as the demand for higher input/output packages continues to increase as more functions are put on single chips, these array packages are growing quickly in popularity. There are five families: pin grid arrays (PGAs), ball grid arrays (BGAs), wafer-level packages (WLPs), and flex and rigid substrate chip-scale packages (CSPs).
The number of array packages produced in 1998 totaled just over 2 billion units, according to Electronic Trends Publications Inc. But by 2003, the total should run almost 13 billion units, the market forecaster predicts. One reason is that assembly prices have come down dramatically from earlier levels, as price, quality, and availability of substrates has improved tremendously, it says.
Pushing array packaging the hardest right now are portable and handheld products, which have been some of the key initial adopters of chip-scale packages (CSP). Array packages can achieve a smaller form factor than a leadframe device such as a quad flat pack (QFP). And they can attain much higher I/O levels.
While the forecast for WLPs is relatively small until 2003, it has been raised considerably by Electronic Trends from its earlier reports. What will cause these packages to really grow, the market researcher says, is that a sizable number of DRAMs will be adopting WLP. Many of the largest DRAM makers say they plan on packaging their products in WLPs in the near future, Electronic Trends notes.
CSP revenue will have the highest growth rate over the next five years, total CSP revenue will be well below that of BGAs or even PGAs due primarily to the lower I/O count for CSPs.
Substrates currently represent nearly 30% of the price of an array package, although their prices have come down substantially in the past couple of years, according to Electronic Trends. The substrate market in 1998 amounted to $1.6 billion, a total that will grow to $4 billion in 2003, the market research firm predicts.
While nearly all of the early array packages used a ceramic substrate because of its compatibility to silicon, organic materials have become the material of choice for most array packages due to recent improvements. There are two types of organic packages, flexible and rigid. Flexible units called "flex tape" provides superior thermal and electrical performance over thicker substrates, and allows for finer traces and smaller ball pitches. But flex tape is still very expensive.
For wafer-level packages, the substrate takes the form of material layers deposited directly onto the wafer. Polyimide is typically used for the dielectric layers, with copper and gold providing the interconnection between the pads on the die and the solder balls on the package.
Wireline delays provide boost
for fixed broadband wireless
OYSTER BAY, N.Y. -- Delays that have developed in wireline broadband technologies are now creating major opportunities for wireless in the broadband market.
These limitations of conventional wire broadband technologies include line congestion and slow deployment of DSL and cable modems, according to a new study by Allied Business Intelligence (ABI) here.
As a result, service providers are turning to three different wireless technologies, the market researcher says. They are LMDS (local multipoint distribution system), MMDS (multichannel multipoint distribution system), and PCS (personal communication system). They operate in the 900 MHz, 2.4, 5.1, and 5.8 GHz bands.
"These wireless systems will be used to provide fiber and high-seed copper equivalents to otherwise under-served customers," says Andy Fuertes, ABI senior analyst.
These technologies are expected to gain more than 9 million broadband subscribers by 2005, predicts the report. Shipments that year of customer premise equipment are expected to reach 3.6 million units in 2005.
MMDS, which includes the 3.4-to-3.7 GHz worldwide standard for fixed wireless access, is expected by ABI to lead the market with a 70% share in 2005, largely in the residential and SOHO (small office/home office) sectors.
LMDS will continue to make inroads into the market for high-speed customers, the market researcher says, accounting for 60% of subscriber revenue in 2005.
The 5.8 GHz band is getting the most attention as an unlicensed broadband local loop. Systems operating in this band are expected by ABI to account for nearly a half million subscribers in 2005.