Intel joins Verizon’s new 5G Technology Forum

© Flickr/CC-licence/Josh Bancroft

© Flickr/CC-licence/Josh Bancroft

  • Creation of 5G network “sandboxes” in Verizon’s Innovation Centres
  • 5G Technology Forum partners represent $50bn in annual R&D
  • Intel also working with Verizon on SDN network evolution

Intel has announced that it will collaborate with Verizon to accelerate the development of 5G wireless technology, and as part of this effort Intel has joined the Verizon 5G Technology Forum as one of its core industry partners. Intel says it will contribute to the development of 5G requirements and standards, as well as conduct testing to optimise end-to-end mobile broadband and IoT device architectures and network infrastructure.

“Intel’s expertise in computing from the device to the network to the data centre and Verizon’s strong network technology allow the two companies to bring a unique perspective to 5G as computing and communications converge,” said Aicha Evans, VP and General Manager of the Communication and Devices Group at Intel. “Together the two companies will lay the foundation for the next generation networks to achieve the 5G deployment goals.”

They are not the only ones who are keen to play a major part in the developing technology and standards work for forthcoming 5G architectures – it’s becoming a crowded market. As well as the established cellular standards organisations and associated groups, such as 3GPP and GSMA, amongst many others, a wide array of specialist 5G groups are emerging. These include the operator-led NGMN, numerous vendor-backed alliances and associations, and research centres such as the UK’s 5G Innovation Centre.

“The Verizon 5G Technology Forum is perfectly timed to harness technical innovation across our partners and collaborate towards rapid definition and advancement of 5G technologies,” said Adam Koeppe, VP of Technology Planning at Verizon. “We are preparing to usher in a new era of throughput, capacity, and enhanced services and having Intel in the Forum is a great addition.”

Intel says it will begin working in Verizon’s 5G sandbox environments in the telco’s San Francisco and Waltham, MA Innovation Centers. It is also developing its own 5G test beds in Oregon, California and other as yet unspecified locations, in addition to its ongoing work on mobile broadband and IoT devices, mmW technology, virtualised RANs, MIMO and mobile edge computing. Intel is also working with Verizon on SDN network evolution – especially relevant as Verizon sees SDN and NFV as providing the foundation for its 5G future.

Verizon set out its 5G roadmap earlier this month, announcing that it would launch field technology trials next year. Alcatel-Lucent, Cisco, Ericsson, Nokia, Qualcomm and Samsung were its inaugural 5G Technology Forum partners, and are helping Verizon construct 5G network test environments (or sandboxes) at its innovation centres.

“5G is no longer a dream of the distant future,” said Roger Gurnani, EVP and chief information and technology architect for Verizon. “We feel a tremendous sense of urgency to push forward on 5G and mobilize the ecosystem by collaborating with industry leaders and developers to usher in a new generation of innovation.”

The US cellular industry has been criticised for its lacklustre support of 5G to date, preferring to focus on the evolution of LTE. This tardiness has enabled the creation of some major 5G alliances between Europe and Asia, with the highest political support. Now though, the US appears to have woken up to the shifting dynamics in the telecoms industry that are being caused by the tremendous potential economic gains to be made from 5G – despite the leadership US had with the introduction of LTE, it made a mess of the earlier 3G and enabled Europe to profit as a result; surely it’s not about to repeat the mistake?

“A lot of development and requirements for 5G networks have so far come from Asian operators,” said Rima Qureshi, chief strategy officer for Ericsson. “It’s exciting to see a US company accelerate the rate of innovation and introduce new partners.”

“When you’re planning a technological evolution at this scale it must be a collaboration of players in the ecosystem,” added Marcus Weldon, CTO of Alcatel-Lucent and president of Bell Labs. “Having Verizon initiate this effort now, even as 4G LTE technology has so much headroom left, will no doubt add to the rich fabric of our digital lives for many years to come.”

In addition to working with communications companies, Verizon’s 5G Technology Forum also includes a group of leading US venture capital groups focused on a variety of emerging technologies.

“Together we represent more than $50 billion in annual research, development and technology investments and thousands of patents,” Gurnani said. “Collectively we are bringing to bear an incredible amount of resources and intellectual capital to introduce the next generation of wireless technology.”

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