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RF connectors, cable assembly companies emphasize high-frequency units

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Zhenjiang Jiangbin's model DIN Female cable assembly adopts an RG 401 cable. It has 2,700V maximum operating voltage.

Makers also release more miniature and SMD types to boost penetration of various communications segments.

Elevated-frequency and compact interconnects remain on the agenda of China suppliers of RF connectors and cable assemblies, spurred by trends in communication products.

Midsize and large makers focus on the development of models supporting more than 10GHz. Xi’an XA Honor has introduced a cable assembly with a 12.4GHz rating. The unit has MMCX right-angle male and female connectors and a flexible cable. A version with a semirigid cord can handle up to 18GHz. In comparison, general-purpose interconnects commonly used in radio communication, broadcasting and military applications run on 6GHz and below. At present, high-frequency products account for 30 percent of local output. The share may increase to 40 percent next year.

Companies sustain the release of miniature and SMD kinds, respectively accounting for 30 percent, and between 10 and 20 percent of yield. The ratio of the latter may climb, driven by smartphones, wireless networking products, PDAs and GPS devices. Shenzhen Qitian’s new 4-pin SMD connector model measures 2x2x0.85mm and features gold plating. Corresponding cable assemblies generally use micro coaxial cables. Foreign players currently dominate the SMD category.

As for miniature variants, SSMB and SSMA dominate supply because of their wide adoption in base stations, telecom products, testing devices, and military and aviation equipment. In cable assemblies, manufacturers utilize mostly local connectors. Some turn to foreign sources such as Hirose. Suzhou Angeei Electronics Co. Ltd obtains U.FL connectors from the last.

Projections of 10 percent growth in sales and exports, meanwhile, are encouraging production expansion. Many manufacturers aim to boost capacity by 10 to 20 percent as they set higher revenue levels. After achieving a 20 percent sales increase this year, connector specialist Yangzhou Hongxing Communication Equipment Co. Ltd is looking to garner 15 percent in 2014.

The local 3G and 4G sectors continue to fuel demand as well. The number of consumers in the former segment is anticipated to grow by more than 15 percent by end-2013 from 137 million in the previous year, according to the Ministry of Information Industry. This translates to more devices requiring connectors and cable assemblies. As a result, suppliers such as Yangzhou Jingguan have invested in 3G RF connectors. The maker allocated $11 million for a 13,000sqm factory, which will churn out 20 million units annually.

The 4G deployment, meanwhile, is under way, and will open new opportunities for interconnects manufacturers. By this year’s end, state-owned telecom company China Mobile will have installed over 200,000 TD-LTE base stations in the country, spreading network coverage to 100 cities.

Between 500 and 600 suppliers constitute China’s RF interconnects pool, 90 percent of which are homegrown operations. About 30 percent of the companiesspecialize in connectors and an equal portion in cable assemblies. Only 30 to 40 percent of those offering cable assemblies produce connectors in-house. The rest outsource them.

Some companies offer rival optical connectors as well to take advantage of climbing requirement. At Suzhou Wutong, RF versions represent 84 percent of yield and optical counterparts the rest. The ratios will change in coming years as the maker shifts emphasis to the latter.

More than 80 percent of the manufacturers gather in the Pearl River and Yangtze River Delta regions. The others are found in Sichuan and Shaanxi provinces.

Mainstream interconnects

The selection of RF connectors consists of male and female SMA, SMB, BNC, MCX, N, F, 7/16 DIN, TNC and UHF types. In smaller sizes, the options are SSMA, SSMB, MMCX and I-Pex-compatible variants. Releases have gold- or nickel-plated brass or copper contacts and bodies, and glass fiber-reinforced nylon 66 or UL94V-0-rated thermoplastic insulators. Wireless communication products are the main applications.

In cable assemblies, the range includes rigid, semirigid, flexible and semiflexible kinds. The available RG series cables are RG 58, 59, 60, 142, 178, 223, 316 and 405. There are also micro versions in RG 58, 174, 178, 188, 316, 402 and 405, and 0.81, 0.98, 1.13, 1.32, 1.37, 1.48 or 1.8mm diameter. Regardless of type, the impedance is 50 or 75ohm. Units have copper conductors, and foamed PE or PVC jackets. Mobile and microwave communication, military electronics, space and aviation are the key markets.

Most makers source key materials copper, gold, nickel, PE and PVC from local providers.

The cost of these inputs is expected to remain at current levels in coming months, resulting in stable prices.

Related report:
Fiber-optic patch cords: Plastic types on the rise

Fakra connector

Product gallery

Fakra connector

Linkingtac Co. Ltd
(Taiwan)

Model: RF081-DS03082B-W02B
Description: Cable assembly; MMCX right-angle male connectors; 0.81 to 1.13mm outer cable diameter; OEM/ODM orders accepted

Fakra connector

Songtech Enterprise Co. Ltd
(Taiwan)

Model: BNC Series
Description: BNC connector; 2-stud quick-connect/disconnect bayonet lock coupling; up to 4GHz DC frequency; 50, 75ohm impedance; for radio and telecom systems, networking, broadcast and medical equipment, test instrumentation

Fakra connector

Suzhou Angeei Electronics Co. Ltd
(mainland China)

Model: CB81U3
Description: Cable assembly; U.FL jack; up to 6GHz DC frequency; 50ohm impedance; 4.7dB/m insertion loss at 2GHz; -30 to 75 C operating temperature; 0.81mm cable diameter

Fakra connector

Yangzhou Hongxing Communication Equipment Co. Ltd
(mainland China)

Model: BNC-16C
Description: BNC connector; 500V maximum operating voltage; 1,500V rms withstand voltage; -65 to 165 C operating temperature; >500-cycle life span

Fakra connector

Zhenjiang Jiangbin Electronic Products Co. Ltd
(mainland China)

Model: DIN Female
Description: Cable assembly; RG 401 cable; ≥1,000Mohm insulation resistance; 50ohm impedance; 3kW average power; 0.15dB maximum insertion loss at 7.5GHz; 2,700V maximum operating voltage; 4,000V rms withstand voltage; ≥500-cycle life span; CECC 2190, IEC 60169-4, DIN 47223

Note: All price quotes in this report are in US dollars unless otherwise specified. FOB prices were provided by the companies interviewed only as reference prices at the time of interview and may have changed.

Disclaimer: All product images are provided by the companies interviewed and are for reference purposes only. Those product images featuring products with trademarks, brand names or logos are not intended for sale. We, our affiliates, and our affiliates' respective directors, officers, employees, representatives, agents or contractors, do not accept and will not have any responsibility or liability for product images (or any part thereof) which infringe on any intellectual property or other rights of a third party.

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