Sunday, 10 September 2017 22:06

Intel’s 5G Mobile Trial Platform pushing towards initial NR milestone and 2020 deployment

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The industry has set ambitious 5G targets, with various trials in place and to come, and deployments over the next couple of years, but 2020 is the date 5G should truly start rolling out and Intel will be there to make sure it happens.

Intel’s vice-president of Client and IOT and Systems Architecture Group (CISA) and its general manager of Next generation and Standards is Asha Keddy, no known relation to Australia’s Asher Keddie, and she has written a blog post on the latest developments with Intel’s “5G Mobile Trial Platform.”

Keddy marvels at the progress made with simple cell phones from the late 1990s, and how those simpler times have evolved into us practically having supercomputers in our pockets, and 5G connectivity just around the corner.

She remarks that “we’re only now beginning to imagine a world of new uses that will further transform our lives for the better”, and says that it is “astounding to see how fast the industry is moving forward today on 5G".

As you read this, Keddy tells us that the industry is “quickly approaching the initial milestone for the 5G new radio (NR), the wireless radio standard that will be the foundation of 5G, just like LTE was for 4G".

She continues, stating that in December this year, “the 5G non-standalone new radio (NR) standard will be finalised with a goal to accelerate commercial 5G trials and deployments while the final standalone 5G NR standard is being developed. This is a major step forward for 5G, and the energising and catalytic effect it will have on an array of technology and services".

Intel 5G Mobile Trial Platform

Keddy explains that “the days of waiting 12 to 18 months for a silicon chip to test the latest set of specifications are long gone”, with “today’s talented researchers and engineers in fast prototype mode".

She tells us that “the foundation for much of their trials and development is the Intel 5G Mobile Trial Platform (MTP)" and that she is “pleased to announce that our Intel 5G Mobile Trial Platform will begin to support the new non-standalone NR standard when available in the fourth quarter of this year for live tests and trials".

In addition, “it’s an industry first”, of which Intel can naturally be proud!

Keddy continues, stating that “when the non-standalone NR specification is finalised, Intel will be ready to quickly begin work with the leading telecommunications equipment manufacturers (TEMs) to make sure the radio access network and the device side successfully operate within the initial NR standard".

Intel will also “join with operators to take non-standalone NR out of the lab and begin testing it in real-world situations”, with this heightened pace of development ensuring Intel will “be able to help the industry meet ambitious targets to deploy commercial 5G services before 2020".

Naturally, Intel’s processors are at play, with Intel proudly boasting it has been able to “accelerate development times in 5G” thanks to its platform being “powered by high-performance Intel FPGAs and Intel Core processors”, and that “TEMs can test interoperability with devices sooner, operators can take the platform into real-world situations earlier, and standards bodies can collect data for final specs faster".

Intel actually originally announced its 5G Mobile Trial Platform at 2016’s MWC, and notes its collaboration “with industry TEM leaders like Ericsson and Nokia and participating in trials with operators like AT&T, Korea Telecom, NTT Docomo and Verizon".

But, says Keddy, “we’re not done". She promises Intel “will continue to test and drive results and innovations into the full standalone 5G NR standard, which is expected at the end of 2018".

However, reminds Keddy, “let’s remember that 5G is more than wireless".

“For it to become a reality, a network transformation is required to replace static, fixed-function equipment with a virtualised, software-defined network.”

Fortunately, Keddy says, “it’s happening already. Leaders in the industry are expecting infrastructures to near more than 50% virtualised and realising the benefits of lower total cost of operations and faster service innovation and deployment.

“5G can happen only when the network, cloud and device come together into a powerful end-to-end 5G solution. That’s why Intel is unique in the industry for its ability to provide solutions for each of these areas.

“Indeed, 5G implementation is not a sprint, it’s a marathon. It’s safe to say that years from now – when our cars drive themselves and our smart homes make our lives easier – we’ll look back with a sense of nostalgia at our smartphones and apps that were world-changing at the time. And no doubt another new technological innovation will then be racing at us,” concludes Keddy, who clearly isn’t kidding!

Intel’s 5G developments and achievements thus far can all be seen here.

Here’s Intel’s short 5G primer video:

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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

One of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.

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