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Intel sets out its plans for 5G mobile push

Company uses Mobile World Congress 2016 to position itself as leader in smarter networks - but also announces partnerships with other players to develop 5G.
Written by Danny Palmer, Senior Writer on

Intel believes it's uniquely positioned to lead the development of 5G connectivity.

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Intel has used Mobile World Congress 2016 to attempt to position itself as a big player in the push towards 5G and the Internet of Things with a raft of product and partnership announcements.

Intel said it will work with Ericsson, Nokia, LG and Verizon in order to speed up development, testing and ultimately deployment of 5G wireless networks in an effort to provide greater connectivity for computers, Internet of Things and mobile devices and even connected cities and driverless vehicles.

"5G represents a significant shift for these networks and we think it's essential to get ready ahead of the curve," said corporate vice president and general manager of the Intel communication and services group, Aicha Evans, speaking in the run up to MWC in Barcelona.

Intel will work with Ericsson and engage in joint trials surrounding 5G, while it will also work with Nokia to collaborate on 5G radio technologies "to meet the device connectivity requirements for future wireless networks".

Intel is putting a significant emphasis on 5G, because according to Evans, the technology represents "a fundamental shift" for computing and the company wants to be ready for it.

"Rather than just being about a personal computing platform, it's about everything that computing can connect and how it connects," she explained.

Intel's desire to lead the path towards 5G and faster, more efficient wireless networks has therefore seen it use MWC to reveal what it describes as "connectivity solutions designed for the IoT".

They include the Intel Atom x3-M7272 wireless communication platform for "automotive applications capable of powering advance security features" and the The Intel XMM 7120M LTE modem, which the company describes as "ideal" for machine-to-machine applications and providing connectivity for a "broad range" of IoT use cases.

Essentially, Intel has attempted to deliver a new type of modem capable of dealing with as many different types of connected device as possible because "when we look at the connected car, wearables, energy management or smart buildings, it's important to have solutions which are targeted and specialised towards that," said Evans.

But while many see 5G deployment as something that's way off and not to be majorly concerned about now - Forrester analyst Thomas Husson argues that it "will have no impact whatsoever for consumers in the next five years" - Intel believes that research and development of 5G is required sooner rather than later, so new developments in technology can be designed in advance then incorporated.

"We think getting the network ready now is key, ahead of the volume and ahead of the knowing what the future will bring; because the last ten years have been a surprise for all of us," said Evans.

"The transition to 5G brings communications and computing together and is a fundamental shift for the industry. It is essential to lay the foundation for future 5G networks now to make amazing experiences of the future possible," she explained.

But while Intel is confident in the role it has to play in the development of 5G, wireless technologies and the Internet of Things, it sees collaboration mobile operators and manufactures as key to ensuring the technology reaches its supposed potential.

"We need to make sure we partner with everybody in the ecosystem, all of the trendsetters and the leaders, so there's an ecosystem we can roam and have a single worldwide view," Evans said.

And with the rise of technologies and devices such as wearable fitness trackers, drones, autonomous vehicles and the increasing demand for cloud computing, Intel believes the demand for 5G is already there - and that it will alter how computing and connectivity works.

"5G represents a significant shift for these networks and we think it's essential to get ready ahead of the curve," said Evans.

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