Millimeter Waves: Emerging Markets

Published: March 2012
No. of Pages:

Thintri, Inc. announces the release of Millimeter Waves: Emerging Markets, a new market study that explores the current state of millimeter wave technology and market opportunities for systems operating in the millimeter wave range. This in-depth investigation discusses millimeter wave technologies already creating significant markets, emerging market opportunities, and overall market development. The report surveys today’s technologies and applications, separates hype from reality and assesses the applications where millimeter wave technology will open up significant new markets, with market forecasts going out to 2020.

Millimeter Wave Systems Overview

  • Technology Background
  • Technical Issues (GaAs vs. SiGe/CMOS, packaging, components, etc.)
  • Public Policy, Regulation, Licensing
  • Standards (Wireless HD, WiGig, etc.)
  • Established Markets

Prime Applications

  • Imaging
  • Telecommunications
  • Consumer Products
  • Defense & Security


  • Active vs. Passive Systems
  • Markets in Checkpoint Security – Airports, concerts, sports events, etc.
  • Markets in Loss Prevention/Inventory Control
  • Markets in Through-Wall Imaging
  • Markets in Consumer Retail/Clothing Sales
  • Issues of Privacy and Public Perception
  • Competition in X-ray backscatter


  • Established Lower-Frequency Applications
  • Applications for Millimeter Waves (Enterprise, Backhaul, PtP, etc.)
  • Licensed vs. Lightly Licensed vs. Unlicensed
  • Performance and Availability
  • 23 to 39 GHz Bands
  • 60 GHz Band Markets
  • E-Band Markets

Consumer Markets

  • 60 GHz: Consumer, Home Media Markets
  • Data Compression
  • Hardware Considerations
  • Market Growth
  • Automotive Radar
  • 24 GHz vs. 77 GHz
  • Market Growth: Trucks, Automobiles

Defense & Security Radar Markets

  • Smart Munitions
  • Perimeter & Surveillance Radar, Intrusion Detection
  • Defense vs. non-Defense
  • Range Considerations, Long Range vs. Short Range  
  • Marine Radar
  • Defense & Intelligence Communications

Emerging Millimeter Wave Markets

  • Commercial Ka-Band Satellite (VSAT) Communications
  • Medicine and Health
  • Chemical Monitoring
  • Construction & Infrastructure
  • Manufacturing

Background on Millimeter Wave Systems and Their Markets

Millimeter wave radiation, that portion of the electromagnetic spectrum generally defined as 20 GHz to 300 GHz, has been exploited only in some relatively limited markets. Now, developments in technology and the regulatory environment have expanded existing millimeter wave applications and opened new, potentially large markets.

The millimeter wave band is a large slice of the microwave spectrum that encompasses radiation with a range of different capabilities. Consequently, the applications enabled by millimeter waves are quite diverse, ranging from security imaging to telecommunications to smart munitions and many others.

Having long been confined to scientific research, i.e., radio astronomy and sensing, millimeter wave technology has established itself in defense, where it is used in satellite-to-satellite communications and smart munitions. More recently developing markets include consumer satellite communications that bring broadband Internet access to businesses and rural consumers, wireless broadband media transfer within the home, automotive radar for tasks such as adaptive cruise control and collision avoidance, and telecommunications links that are approaching the performance of optical fiber but at a fraction of the cost.  Millimeter wave security imaging, such as that used to screen airline passengers and personnel at other checkpoints, is undergoing deployment at airports and businesses, where it is used for loss prevention and inventory control. Systems are even commercially available for retail clothing shoppers to conduct body measurements to determine clothing sizes and recommend appropriate products and brands.    

Development of millimeter wave communications technologies was necessitated by the scarcity of available frequencies in the lower frequency microwave ranges, which have become congested in many locations due to demand from public and private communications, broadcasting, aircraft guidance and radar, and others. The advantage of millimeter waves in communications, however, is the greater capacity to carry information, due to the higher frequency. Another benefit to millimeter waves is a narrower beam, which permits much smaller antennas.

The main limitation of millimeter waves is range. Due to absorption by atmospheric oxygen and water vapor, signal strength drops off more rapidly with distance than in other bands. However, this attenuation is also one of the prime advantages of millimeter waves in communications. The limited range, combined with the narrow beam, prevents interference between neighboring links, even in congested environments like large cities. It also makes signal interception much more difficult, if not impossible. These features have led to a greatly reduced regulatory burden for millimeter wave communications, which has further encouraged widespread deployment. Consequently, telecommunications companies have seized on millimeter wave systems, with near-optical fiber performance but much lower cost, as an alternative to laying optical fiber in locations where it would be physically impossible or too costly, for emergency broadband provision when conventional fiber systems fail, and routine wireless backhaul deployments. Millimeter wave systems are also ideal in many campus and enterprise broadband networks.             

Markets for millimeter wave technology are growing rapidly, and in some applications, more than 100% per year.  Several markets will surpass $1 billion in yearly global sales within the forecast period of the report. In others, millimeter wave technology will fill key applications, but with more modest overall sales.   

The Thintri market study, Millimeter Waves: Emerging Markets, relies on extensive, in-depth interviews with industry executives, market development managers and government and academic researchers. The report provides a survey of the current state of the art in millimeter wave technology, an assessment of potential applications in terms of their commercial viability, discussion of market development and forecasts for individual markets from 2012 to 2020.            

Understand the Markets

The outlook for millimeter wave technology is extraordinarily promising. Steady reductions in hardware cost and progress in system development are dovetailing with growing demand in a number of markets and, in some applications, greatly relaxed regulation, are all leading to growth in widely diverse markets. Depending on the application, that growth is already well underway, is starting now, or will start soon. Most importantly, some of the most significant markets, including security and telecommunications, are not only potentially quite large but relatively immune to economic conditions. In many applications, technology requires little if any development to capture significant markets. In others, recent innovations are reducing costs dramatically and bringing millimeter wave systems within striking distance of mass markets. 

Some emerging markets require little more than education of users in the capability of millimeter wave systems while in others, that case has already been made and equipment sales are growing rapidly. In most areas, technologies have matured to the extent that scientific understanding is not an issue; instead, the principal requirement is bringing prices in line with market demand.

Millimeter Waves: Emerging Markets

Table of Contents

Part 1: Overview  1
1.1 Introduction 1
Figure 1-1 Primary US Microwave and Millimeter Wave Band Allocations1
1.2 History 4
Figure 1-2 Prof. J.C. Bose with his millimeter wave equipment, 18975
1.3 Current Markets 6
1.3.1 Telecommunications 6
1.3.2 Radar 7
1.4 Technology Basics 8
Figure 1-3 Propagation of Millimeter Waves 8
Figure 1-4 Absorption of Millimeter Waves by Atmospheric Oxygen and Water Vapor  10
Figure 1-5 Overall Atmospheric Absorption Mechanisms of Electromagnetic Radiation  11
1.5 Why Millimeter Waves?  12

Part 2: Technology & Hardware 13
2.1 Semiconductors and Packaging  13
2.1.1 Material Systems: GaAs, GaN, SiGe and CMOS 13
2.1.2 Packaging: MCM vs. SMT 18
2.1.3 Devices, Circuits & Components 19
2.1.4 RF-MEMS Switches 19
2.2 Transmission Lines 20
2.3 Antennas 21
2.4 Transceivers & Receivers 22
2.5 Systems  22
2.6 Modulation 24
2.6.1 Amplitude Shift Keying  24
2.6.2 Frequency Shift Keying 24
2.6.3 Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplexing  24

Part 3: Technical & Safety Issues 26
3.1 Technical Issues 26
3.2 Safety        28

Part 4: Public Policy, Regulation & Standards 30
4.1 Background: Growth of the Current Regulatory Climate 30
4.2 E-band Regulation 31
4.3 Standards 32
4.3.1 Low Frequency Options 33
4.3.2 Higher Frequency Standards 34
4.3.3 Summary 36

Part 5: Imaging  37
5.1 Introduction 37
5.2 Imaging Technology  37
Figure 5-1 Scissors Imaged Through a Closed Container 38
Figure 5-2 Cookies Imaged Through a Closed Container 38
5.3 Imaging Applications 40
5.3.1 Checkpoint Security: Airports & Other Public Venues 40
5.3.2 Inventory Control, Theft Prevention 42
5.3.3 Through-Wall Imaging 43
5.3.4 Consumer Retail 46
5.4 Active vs. Passive Systems    46
Figure 5-1 Checkpoint Security Imaging Market, Active vs. Passive System Share  49
5.5 Issues of Acceptance: Privacy and Public Perception 50
Figure 5-2 Active millimeter wave images 50
Figure 5-3 TSA Chart on Millimeter Wave Scanners 52
5.6 The Competition: Backscatter X-Ray 52
5.7 Millimeter Wave Imaging Markets  54
5.7.1 Checkpoint Security Imaging Markets 55
Figure 5-4 Millimeter Wave Imaging Systems Sales in Checkpoint Security, Unit Sales  56
Figure 5-5 Millimeter Wave Imaging Systems Sales in Checkpoint Security, Market Volume  56
5.7.2 Loss Prevention Imaging Markets 57
Figure 5-6 Imaging Systems Sales, Loss Prevention, Unit Sales 57
Figure 5-7 Imaging Systems Sales, Loss Prevention, Market Volume 58
5.7.3 Through-Wall Imaging Markets 58
Figure 5-8 Millimeter Wave Through-Wall Imaging Systems Market Volume  58
5.7.4 Consumer Retail Imaging Markets 59
Figure 5-9 Imaging Systems Sales in Consumer Retail, Market Volume 59

Part 6: Telecommunications 60
6.1 Introduction 60
6.1.1 Conventional Microwave Links 60
Figure 6-1 Conventional Microwave Links, Hardware Sales 61
Figure 6-2 Conventional Microwave Links, Hardware Sales by Component 61
Figure 6-3 Relative Share of Mobile vs. Enterprise Networks, 6 - 38 GHz, 2011 62
6.1.2 The advent of Millimeter Wave Systems in Telecommunications 62
6.2 Licensed vs. Lightly Licensed vs. Unlicensed 65
6.3 The 23, 24, 26 and 39 GHz Bands    66
6.3.1 23 and 26 GHz Bands 66
6.3.2 24 and 39 GHz Bands 67
6.4 60 GHz    68
6.4.1 60 GHz Telecommunications Applications 68
6.4.2 Benefits of 60 GHz Technology    69
6.5 The E-band   69
6.5.1 Background   69
6.5.2 Propagation Characteristics   70
6.5.3 Performance, Reliability and Availability 71
Table 6-1  Five Nines Link Range and Availability for Several Cities 72
6.5.4 Applications & Users    73
Table 6-2  Frequency vs. Beamwidth at 1 km using a 1-foot diameter antenna 74
Figure 6-4  Beamwidth comparisons for wireless backhaul solutions 76
6.5.5 E-band Licensing 78
6.6 The Competitive Technology Landscape 79
Figure 6-5 Telecommunications Backhaul: Shares by Technology 80
6.7 The Millimeter Wave Telecom Market 81
6.7.1 Past Market Growth   81
6.7.2 2009: The Shift to backhaul   82
6.7.3 Present and Future Market Growth   83
Figure 6-6 Markets, Millimeter Wave Telecommunications Links, 20-38 GHz 84
Figure 6-7 Markets, 20 to 38 GHz, by Component 84
Figure 6-8 Millimeter Wave Systems Markets, Telecom, 60-80 GHz  86
Figure 6-9 Telecom Systems Markets by Component, 60-80 GHz    86
Figure 6-10 Millimeter Wave Systems Markets, 60-80 GHz, by Application 87
Figure 6-11 Millimeter Wave Enterprise Markets, 60-80 GHz   87

Part 7: Consumer & Automotive  88
7.1 Introduction 88
7.2 60 GHz Systems: Consumer & Home Media  89
7.2.1 Background on 60 GHz 89
7.2.2 Data Compression 90
7.2.3 Hardware Considerations 91
7.2.4 60 GHz Consumer Media Markets 92
Figure 7-1 Markets for 60 GHz Consumer Multimedia Products 93
Figure 7-2 Markets for 60 GHz Consumer Multimedia Products, Unit Sales  93
7.3 Automotive Radar  93
7.3.1 Background  93
Figure 7-3 The 1959 Cadillac Cyclone with Radar 94
7.3.2 24 GHz vs. 77 GHz 98
Figure 7-4 Market Share, Auto Radar, 24 GHz vs. 77 GHz, Automobiles 99
Figure 7-5 Market Share, Auto Radar, 24 GHz vs. 77 GHz, Trucks 100
7.3.3 Automotive Radar Markets 100
Figure 7-6 Worldwide Unit Sales, Cars and Trucks 100
Figure 7-7 Unit Sales, Radar Systems, Trucks and Automobiles 101
Figure 7-8 Markets for Automotive Radar, 24 GHz and 77 GHz 101

Part 8: Millimeter Wave Radar: Defense & Security Markets         102
8.1 Background 102
8.2 Millimeter Wave Radar for Security and Intrusion Detection 103
8.2.1 Perimeter and Surveillance Radar 103
8.2.2 Range Considerations 105
8.2.3 Technical Considerations 105
8.3 Munitions Applications 105
8.4 Marine Radar 106
8.5 Defense and Intelligence Communications 108
8.6 Defense & Security System Markets 108
Figure 8-1 Surveillance/Perimeter Radar, Defense vs. Non-Defense, 2011 & 2016 109
Figure 8-2 Millimeter Wave Surveillance/Perimeter Radar Markets 109
Figure 8-3 Millimeter Wave Munitions Radar Markets 110
Figure 8-4 Marine Radar Millimeter Wave Markets    110
Figure 8-5 Defense & Intelligence Millimeter Wave Communications Markets 111

Part 9: Other Millimeter Wave Markets 112
9.1 Commercial Ka-band Satellite Communications 112
Figure 9-1 Unit Sales, VSAT Terminals 115
9.2 Medicine and Health 115
Figure 9-2 Millimeter Wave Markets in Medicine, Health and Safety  116
9.3 Chemical Monitoring 117
Figure 9-3 Markets for Millimeter Wave Systems in Chemical Monitoring    117
9.4 Construction & Infrastructure    118
Figure 9-4 Millimeter Wave Systems Markets in Construction and Infrastructure   118
9.5 Manufacturing 119
Figure 9-5 Millimeter Wave Markets in Manufacturing 120

Part 10: Millimeter Wave Semiconductor Markets  121
10.1 Introduction   121
Figure 10-1 Overall MMICs by Application, All Frequencies, 2011  121
Figure 10-2 MMIC Sales by Application, Millimeter Wave Only, 2018  122
10.2 Consumer Applications   122
Figure 10-3 Semiconductor Markets in Car Radar, Multimedia  123
10.3 Imaging   123
Figure 10-4 Millimeter Wave Semiconductor Markets, Active Imaging Systems 123
Figure 10-5 Millimeter Wave Semiconductor Markets, Passive Imaging Systems 124
10.4 Defense and Security  124
Figure 10-6 Defense & Security Millimeter Wave Semiconductor Markets 124
10.5 Telecommunications   125
Figure 10-7 Telecommunications Millimeter Wave Semiconductor Markets 125
10.6 Other Millimeter Wave Applications 125
Figure 10-8 Semiconductor Markets in Other Millimeter Wave Applications 126

Published By: Thintri Inc
Product Code: Thintri Inc2

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