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Intel - Why 5G is one of our top priorities

(Image credit: Michael Moore)

With just over a year and a half until the worldwide launch of 5G networks, anticipation is continuing to build around what is set to be a hugely transformative technology.

However the ability to have faster and more reliable connections also depends on having a secure and stable network infrastructure - and fortunately some of the technology industry's biggest minds are hard at work on just that.

(Image credit: Image Credit: Supparsorn / Shutterstock)

Although still best known as the chip-making powerhouse that supplies the processing power in most laptops and PCs, Intel is keen to stretch its wings and move into the hugely important world of 5G.

This move is part of a major transition for the company, as the world around us becomes smarter and more connected, with the need for networking power to support this.

"5G is a very fundamental transition for the industry," Alex Quach, Intel's chief of 5G strategy, told ITProPortal at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona last month.

"(It) represents...a tremendous opportunity for Intel as it transitions from a PC company to a data company."

Intel's new 5G leadership has been shown off in several very public test cases in the last few months, most recently at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, where the company teamed up with local operator Korea Telecom to deploy a 5G-ready commercial network for the first time.

The test was a major milestone for the company, Quach says, noting that it was a "fantastic experience" for Intel to take its network out of the lab and into the real world (and the cold and snow of the mountains) for the first time.

"Things worked well," he says, "we're highly encouraged...from a technical perspective on the viability of the technology and its ability to perform in a live environment."

2018 will now see network providers and hardware manufacturers laying the groundwork for 5G, Quach says, but this will go along with the need to identify important use cases and challenges that the technology can solve.

Intel is now working with a wide number of partners to ensure the ecosystem is ready for 5G, and Quach is heartened by the support the company has had.

"Intel isn't the type of company that can or wants to go it alone," he says, highlighting recent work with Nokia and Ericsson on industrial IoT deployments, "we're going to have to work with a multitude of companies."

This collaboration will soon include the first 5G-ready laptops, as Intel showed of its first prototype device at MWC. With 5G taking the show by storm, Quach was keen to promote Intel's future work in hardware, but warned that, "there's some fundamental early engineering things that need to happen."

Intel is now set to continue its 5G tests ahead of the 2020 launch, with the company upgrading its trial network to support 5G NR within the next few months to allow for more thorough tests.

But Quach once again emphasises that Intel is fully focused on ensuring that its 5G ecosystem is ready for launch, forming part of its changing priorities as a company.

"5G is one of Intel's top priorities over the next few years," he says. "5G is very different in that it introduces a whole new world of machines (and) it fundamentally is a profound transition in the industry and has major implications as we transition from a PC company to a data company."

Mike Moore is Deputy Editor at TechRadar Pro, and has worked as a B2B and B2C tech journalist for nearly a decade, including at one of the UK's leading national newspapers and ITProPortal.