No, it’s not a fancy drink you get at a pub with a twisty straw and some combination of citrus, ice cubes, and/or enough sugar to send a hippopotamus into a coma.
Instead, MIMO stands for “multiple-input and multiple-output,” and basically refers to a radio link that can receive, process, and send back multiple signals without getting them mixed up, and even handle all that information in one signal. For an example, look at any radio tower with a bunch of those funny-looking rectangular “nodes” at the top that kind of resemble the crown worn by the Witch-King of Angmar in The Lord of the Rings films; chances are those are MIMO nodes.
But here’s the thing: this “unsexy” tech (first developed in the early 1990s) is poised for a breakout. Granted, it’s already worth big bucks – as in, an estimated US$1.29 billion in 2018. But that’s peanuts to the heights it could reach.
How high are we talking? Try US$20.91 billion by 2026, according to a new report by research firm MarketsandMarkets (yes, that’s the firm’s name). So, yeah: growth of US$20 billion in just eight years is a pretty tremendous leap.
“APAC is expected to be the fastest-growing massive MIMO market,” the report states. “Factors such as reduced latency, high data rate, along with inexpensive and low power components are expected to drive the massive MIMO market in Asia Pacific. Furthermore, Australia, Japan, China, South Korea, and Japan play a significant role in the LTE market and have the maximum 4G LTE penetration rate. This has led to an increased demand for massive MIMO in the telecommunication sector of the APAC.”
Translation: heaps of people are going to be installing towers for 4G Internet and WiFi. And all those towers being built will mean someone – or several someones – will presumably be making bank.
As the report also states, “The rising importance of software implementation in a communication network, high signal to noise ratio, and link reliability are some of the drivers for the massive MIMO market.” In other words, such towers are going to be more important than ever before in our ever-more-connected world – and that growth will be in both new regions and areas where there already have been towers for 3G and slower service.
Oh, and the fact MIMO can handle different signals being received – and not get them mixed up when sending them back out – is also going to be key as we become increasingly connected to every device imaginable (smart napkins, anyone? One day, maybe). So, yeah, it’d having a bit of a moment. And it seems – unless humanity somehow reverts back to the Stone Age – it’ll continue to do so in the future.