The closer the industry gets to shipping 5G, the bigger the war is heating up between the biggest players in the industry and Intel is without a doubt right in the thick of it. Everyone is already familiar with Intel’s recent efforts to deliver drones and showcase VR using 5G at the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, Korea. However, Intel’s biggest efforts in 5G are focused on delivering 5G based on the new 5G NR standard in as many places as possible. This includes enablement of 5G from the datacenter all the way to the edge and back. Intel recently announced their new Xeon D-2100 for edge computing for 5G networks (read here) and that serves as a nice primer for some of Intel’s latest announcements at MWC 2018 this year in Barcelona.Intel 5G “firsts” Intel was very busy in 2017 working on many world firsts connected to their efforts in 5G. The company partnered with Toyota and NTT DoCoMo on car mobility trials as well as Tencent Holdings and Huawei Technologies in China. Intel had claimed numerous 5G “firsts”. They also showed the world their aspirations in 5G modems with their new XMM 8060 and 7660 chipsets due out in 2019. Many of their activities in 2017 helped set the stage for the beginning of this year with their efforts at the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, Korea. At the games in Korea, Intel had twenty-two active 5G links at 5 venues and was using the 5G network to provide Wi-Fi services as well. While this deployment was not actually a 3GPP compliant deployment of 5G, it did still provide as a showcase for 5G’s capabilities and helped Intel learn valuable lessons for next year’s deployments of 5G NR. To build momentum towards commercial deployments, Intel must keep working on new trials and interoperability testing to ensure everything will work flawlessly. That is where Intel’s first major MWC announcement comes in. 5G interoperability with Huawei Intel held the first public 5G NR interoperability test with Huawei. One of the big developments that Intel is showing off at Mobile World Congress 2018 is their first 5G NR public interoperability testing in partnership with Huawei Technologies network equipment. Intel claims that this is the world’s first public demonstration of interoperability, and they might be correct because as far as I know, many of these interoperability tests are done in private in labs. In addition to Huawei, Intel is also saying that they are currently working on over 25 different 5G trials worldwide which include both operators and OEMs. These are crucial partnerships for Intel to be involved in because without them the kinks in different 5G NR deployments simply won’t be worked out in time to deliver a quality experience. Consumer 5G devices in holiday 2019 from Dell, HP, and Lenovo In addition to their trials with operators and the usual smartphone OEMs, Intel is bringing in three partners rarely talked about when you think about wireless or 5G, Dell, HP Inc and Lenovo. Intel is doing what they do best and is bringing together the three biggest names in PCs together to collaborate. This collaboration will enable 5G connectivity in consumer PCs, likely notebooks, for availability in late 2019, around the holiday selling season. This will pair Intel’s Core processors with the XMM 8060 5G modems to provide data connectivity to what many would expect to be consumers given the holiday timeframe. Dell, Lenovo, and HP Inc will deliver 5G PCs in 2H 2019. The great thing about deploying on laptops or 2-in-1s first for Intel is that they can leverage their power within the PC ecosystem to encourage innovation. Laptops are also easier to design for compared to smartphones and you generally have more space to work with than on a smartphone. They also have bigger batteries and have fewer places that might be occluded, which can result in faster speeds and better user experience. By going with 5G on PCs, Intel also avoids the issue of needing dual connectivity with 4G running voice while 5G runs data, reducing the power consumption requirement. I am hopeful Dell, HP Inc. and Lenovo will work hard optimizing antennas to get the highest speeds at the lowest power.
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