Nearly two-thirds of smartphones shipped in 2020 will incorporate LTE carrier aggregation, according to a new report from ABI Research.
In the report, ABI forecast that 61 percent of smartphones shipped in 2020 will be LTE carrier aggregation compatible, up from just 23 percent of devices in 2015.
While category 6 and 9 chips are the most deployed LTE carrier aggregation chips right now, ABI further said the majority of smartphones shipped in 2020 – or 35 percent of the market – will support LTE carrier aggregation 9 and 10 chips. Those chips facilitate downlink speeds of 450 mbps, ABI said.
Smartphones supporting category 11 or higher – with speed capabilities of .5 gbps to 1 gbps – are also expected to become more prevalent, and are on target to snag 21 percent of the market share by 2020, ABI said.
ABI said the push for smartphone support for carrier aggregation is being led by companies like Huawei, Samsung and Qualcomm, which all manufacture LTE carrier aggregation chips.
“Qualcomm, Samsung, and Huawei’s HiSilicon are all aggressively pushing LTE CA, making it extremely difficult for rivals to compete in the LTE baseband business,” said Managing Director and Vice President of ABI Research Malik Saadi. “These three players managed to monopolize the market segment with a collective market share of 97% in 2015, leaving other suppliers to fight for the remaining 3%.”
According to ABI, fierce competition from these currently technology leaders has resulted in major upgrades to baseband chips.
Qualcomm, for example, has already announced its X16 chip, which includes category 16 capabilities and offers a downlink mobile broadband speed of up to 1Gbps, ABI said.
The competition, however, will also make it difficult for new players to gain ground in the market, ABI said.
“Qualcomm is well placed to continue its predominance in the baseband market,” Saadi said. “However, there will be some traditional suppliers that see their share eroding as the market moves towards a wide adoption of higher LTE baseband categories.”