The definition of mobility is changing and broadening every day. Today’s mobile world was built for smartphones with voice and data in mind. In tomorrow’s world, nothing is mobile because everything is mobile. It will be a world built for connected cars, connected factories and connected drones, to name a few examples. The machines are coming and we are going to need the next era of wireless technology to bring new connections and unique capabilities to the connected world. That next era is 5G…
At Intel, we recognize that 5G is more than an evolutionary step forward for our industry. It encompasses many technologies and a much wider ecosystem than has ever been seen in the wireless and telecommunications industries. It’s an inflection point, a place in time where we will see and experience everything being smart and connected. But in order for billions of people and machines to be connected, we need smarter, faster and more efficient networks. The ability to connect to each other, to our machines and to the cloud, and to derive actionable insights from the massive amount of data, will bring new experiences to our daily lives and transform businesses. This is why Intel is focusing on three key areas: industry partnerships, end-to-end 5G-related hardware and software development, and supporting 5G standards-setting. We are pushing hard to create end-to-end solutions from the device to the network to the cloud. We are accelerating prototype solutions through efforts like Intel’s 5G mobile trial platform and are working with standards-setting bodies such as 3GPP and IEEE on defining the 5G standards to ensure a smooth path and entry to a faster and smarter pace of connectivity.
Connectivity binds together the cloud, the Internet of Things (IoT), all our devices, memory and FPGAs — all creating a virtuous cycle of growth that Brian Krzanich outlined a few weeks ago. Enabling smart, fast, efficient, and powerful connectivity to the expected 50 billion connected “things” will make our homes, our cities and our world smarter and our lives richer. 5G has the potential to deliver data hundreds of times faster than current wireless technology. But such potential can only be achieved when computing and communications converge, and this is where our industry must align.
Current and next wave connectivity technologies — LTE, millimeter wave, 5G modems, Wi-Fi, WiGig, Bluetooth, Ethernet, to name a few — are essential for this end-to-end pervasive connectivity across extremely diverse device and application needs, from multi-gigabit per second speeds to ultra-low latency.
One of the first steps is to start connecting the unconnected machines and “things.” This is an area I am incredibly passionate about, and I am excited about the connectivity solutions that Intel is delivering to ensure that a true IoT world becomes reality. Our customers are partnering closely with us on this, validating their modules that utilize our modems on carrier networks around the world. At Mobile World Congress, Intel and AT&T announced a collaboration to test airborne LTE use cases for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), also known as drones, and Intel also showed demonstrations of technologies such as Mobile Edge Computing, millimeter wave and NarrowBand IOT (NB-IOT). These are all important steps to bring connectivity to a variety of new IoT devices globally.
By the same token, we must architect modems, devices and networks to ensure that everything and anything that can compute and connect to the network actually will. Think about it this way — every device that connects to the network redefines connectivity and establishes a new point of convergence. With this in mind, we must redefine the meaning of the network. Every device becomes a node by default.
Such connectivity requires immediate analytics and response as well. Many people believe devices are simply dumb data sources, and that all analytics occur in the cloud. That’s not true. The fact is computing and analytics happen not only in the clouds, but also in the network and on our devices. Computing does not happen in a vacuum, it is ubiquitous like connectivity.
To deliver 5G connectivity and intelligence we must work together. Industry partnerships are more critical than ever. No one company can move this technology forward alone. For me, that means collaborating with industry leaders from device and equipment manufacturers to network operators and service providers. It also means laying down a strong foundation for 5G right now, in areas like Network Function Virtualization (NFV) and NB-IOT.
We have been busy on those fronts. Intel showcased working demonstrations of NB-IOT technology with Ericsson and Nokia at Mobile World Congress; Intel, Orange and Ericsson conducted one of the world’s first extended coverage trials for IoT using EC-GSM-IoT; and during Computex this week, Intel announced a collaboration with Foxconn on the development of network infrastructure technologies, to help transform communications networks and lay the foundation for 5G.
With all of this progress, I am confident in Intel’s ability to deliver world-class products, end-to-end, from device to network to data center and cloud. As a company, we are excited to help lead the industry through this inflection point and let the machines finally come to life.
Aicha Evans is corporate vice president and general manager for Intel’s Communication and Devices Group.