Intel and SK Telecom announce joint innovation program

SK Telecom and Intel will continue their joint innovation projects across 5G, IoT, VR, and mobile edge computing.

Intel has announced a joint innovation program in partnership with SK Telecom, with SVP of 5G and Network Platform Group Sandra Rivera saying it will push new use cases across 5G and the Internet of Things (IoT).

"A joint innovation program that Intel and SK Telecom are investing in ... is really to accelerate the use case commercialisation with next 5G immersive media services," Rivera said at the Intel 5G Summit in Los Angeles.

"This includes collaborations on technologies such as mobile edge computing, 5G, and Intel True VR technology, which gives us new ways to enjoy sports."

Intel VP of Technology, Systems Architecture, and Client Group, and GM of Next Generation and Standards Asha Keddy told ZDNet in an interview that the SK Telecom program is the "next level" of Intel's continuing partnership with the Korean telco.

Also speaking on Intel's work with Australian carrier Telstra on 5G, meanwhile, Keddy said the 5G call made by the companies with Ericsson was an important milestone.

"I thought it was a really big deal, because it was an Ericsson commercial network, so this wasn't a lab setting," Keddy told ZDNet.

"[Outgoing head of Telstra Networks] Mike Wright used his SIM card and he did the call over the network."

Intel is continuing to work with Telstra on "more innovative events", she said, pointing towards the telco's determination to be among the first to launch a 5G network thanks to its long-term planning efforts.

Telstra's 5G network is live at 13 mobile towers in the Gold Coast, one in Toowoomba, and one in Brisbane, with 200 to go live by the end of 2018.

"Telstra's always been a technology leader in telecommunications ... we've got one of the best networks if not the best network in the world," Telstra CEO Andy Penn told ZDNet earlier this week.

"We've got a very clear plan and roadmap in progress for where that deployment is going to happen, and we've got all of our partners lined up to support that rollout."

Keddy noted that every telco will "find a way to say they're ahead" on 5G, but that the important thing is which carriers find ways to make revenue via use cases.

Similarly, Intel VP and GM for 5G Strategy and Program Alex Quach -- also speaking during the Intel 5G Summit -- said the telecommunications industry is struggling to find a "killer use case" for 5G.

Operators are looking to deploy it in order to meet the higher use of data, Quach said, with many of the use cases to be video- and media-related upfront.

"A specific use case is going to be difficult to nail down," he said, explaining that the challenge is for carriers figuring out how to engage and collaborate with enterprises now.

Keddy and Quach also spoke on spectrum concerns in the US, pointing out that the nation doesn't have mid-band spectrum readily available. Intel is therefore "actively working with the FCC on this", as well as facilitating discussions with the satellite industry on leasing arrangements.

"It all starts with spectrum, so in America the key question will be when will the spectrum be made available and at what cost?" Quach said.

"Without spectrum, there is no 5G."

Disclosure: Corinne Reichert travelled to the Intel 5G Summit and Mobile World Congress Americas in Los Angeles as a guest of Intel

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