Wednesday, 09 May 2018 10:00

Broad deployment of 5G expected only by 2020: Intel expert

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Mobile operators have plans to roll out 5G phones next year but the industry expects broad deployments among consumers to take place only in 2020, according a senior Intel official who is involved in 5G.

Jonathan Wood (above), Intel’s senior director, 5G Market Development and Partnerships within Intel’s Next Generation and Standards Group, was at the Gold Coast on Tuesday for an esports professional gaming experiences over 5G, carried out along with Telstra and Ericsson.

He told iTWire in response to queries that as with all mobile network transitions, it would take time for operators to make the physical upgrades that would support 5G technologies with such decisions being made based on capacity, customer demand, and resources.

All 5G phones would be multi-mode – when a 5G network was not available, they would fall back to LTE and older networks and work on them as well.

"They will get a boost in speed and capacity when in a 5G enabled cell, but will transition to LTE when 5G isn’t available," he said. "In addition with ultra-reliable low latency we will see 5G address more than just smartphones, 5G innovation will bring wireless to new use cases e.g. transportation, healthcare, smart cities and new immersive entertainment experiences."

Asked about recent comments by Huawei chairman Eric Xu, that consumers would ultimately find no material difference between 5G and LTE, Wood said the new radio that was being made for 5G (%G NR) was unique in that it could be used in multiple bands that each had different properties.

"When deployed in the same spectrum bands as LTE networks use today, users will likely see similar fast speeds as can be found on mature LTE networks and users will notice the lower latency that comes from the implementation of 5G NR," he said.

"When deployed in higher bands, however, (there will be) a very noticeable improvement in the bandwidth and subsequent mobile broadband speed. In fact, some countries are looking to deploy 5G NR is millimetre wave bands like 28GHz and we expect multi-gigabit speeds out of these deployments."

Wood was asked about the degree of hype surrounding 5G, with iTWire citing the example of Sprint and T-Mobile which are trying to sell a proposed merger on the basis that only a combined entity would have the necessary network capacity to create a 5G network that would make the US a leader in this field.

But he refused to buy into this. "We can’t comment on other companies’ views, but 5G has been architected to accommodate technologies and usages that did not exist when LTE was being designed," he responded. "When 5G fully deploys it will have massive capacity, ultra low latency, and gigabit speeds."

Both Sprint and T-Mobile have in the past said that they would have no problem in deploying 5G independently. iTWire pointed Wood to comments by Tom Wheeler of the US Federal Communications Commission that were dismissive about these claims by the two companies.

But once again, Wood was unwilling to engage, saying: "We don’t comment on other companies’ plans/comments."

Asked whether the definition of 5G as a collection of emerging antenna and core network technologies that will make wireless networks faster and more efficient with lower latency was on the mark, Wood replied: "You are correct that this is a definition of 5G, but these capabilities will create an inflection point."

But he said it also went beyond that. "The Del Oro Group said in February, '5G represents a large investment target for telecom operators, not just for radio networks – but for numerous underlying technologies and systems linked to network virtualisation'. One of those is NFV, or network functions virtualisation. Del Oro expects operators to ramp up their deployments of NFV technologies and infrastructure to take full advantage of their 5G networks and service offerings; and with tangible results in the not-too-distant future."

Wood also pointed to analyst Patrick Moorhead of Moor Insights & Strategy who is of the view that 5G was more than hype, sharing what network build-outs will be driven by 5G in an article in Forbes.

"Another place the 5G momentum will build is always connected PCs and at Mobile World Congress we also announced that laptops (or 2-in-1 devices, in this case) would be 5G-enabled, and delivered by our partner OEMs, utilising Intel’s 5G XMM 8060 modem," Wood said.

Asked how various companies were carrying out trials advertised as 5G when none of the standards or specs for the technology were in place, he said Intel was able to deliver the specifications of the most recently finalised standard, the 3GPP Non-Standalone (NSA) 5G New Radio (NR) Standard using the Intel 5G Mobile Trial Platform.

"This standard was finalised on 21 December 2017 and Intel was an active participant," Wood added.

He said the device used FPGAs which are programmable, enabling it to implement the standard’s latest communications protocols and air interfaces.

"The trial platform was able to follow the progress of the NR specification, preparing it for the finalisation of the standard. It is NSA 5G NR-ready, giving equipment manufacturers the platform they need to test interoperability and operators the ability to simulate real-world use cases. Intel 5G Mobile Trial Platform will also have a key role in informing the pending SA standard within Release 15 in June 2018.

"We already have several NSA 5G NR trials lined up using the MTP alongside our 5G RFIC supporting sub-6 GHz and mmWave, and our 5G RFFE for operations in the 28GHz and 39GHz bands. The learning from our interoperability testing and real-world trials are foundational for our first commercial NSA/SA 5G NR-capable multimode solutions, the Intel XMM 8000 series modem, with customer devices expected in 2019. These solutions will support a variety of use cases, including PCs, mobile phones, fixed wireless CPE and even vehicles," Wood said.


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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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