Unlike previous generations of cellular technology, Intel has been thoroughly entrenched in 5G, contributing to the standards process and showing off at high-profile events like the Winter Olympics in South Korea earlier this year.
It’s also involved in 5G trials with operators in China and the U.S., and while all the nationwide operators in the U.S. claim they will be first with 5G, the industry’s largest trade association, CTIA, says the U.S. risks losing the race to 5G to China and/or South Korea if it doesn’t make more midband spectrum available, for one thing.
So who’s winning the race to 5G? Asha Keddy, vice president in the Technology, Systems Architecture & Client Group and general manager of Next Generation and Standards at Intel, doesn’t have to pick favorites. “I think everybody will say that they are first in some different way,” she told FierceWirelessTech.
In China, operators are so huge—China Mobile alone services 887 million connections—that they can tie their 5G firsts to scale. In the U.S., some carriers might be first with millimeter wave and/or fixed wireless.
Intel partnered with Fox Sports to “unplug the wires” at the U.S. Open Golf Tournament on DirecTV, using two 4K HDR cameras positioned at the seventh hole of the event. Using Intel’s trial platform, Ericsson’s infrastructure and AT&T’s millimeter wave technologies and network, the demo was designed in part to show how replacing fiber with wireless will reduce costs in situations like live golf coverage.
This past week, Intel, Ericsson and China Mobile announced they were able to successfully demonstrate the first 3GPP-compliant, multivendor Standalone (SA) 5G New Radio (NR) call. Intel, Ericsson and China Mobile used the 3.5 GHz band to conduct live Interoperability Development Testing of the SA 5G NR technology at the Ericsson Lab in Beijing, China. Specifically, they used Ericsson’s 5G NR base stations and Intel’s 5G NR UE (Intel 5G Mobile Trial Platform) prototypes.
That announcement came on the heels of 3GPP’s completion of Release 15 5G NR SA specifications, enabling SA 5G NR with user and control plane on a 5G next-generation core network. The Non-Standalone (NSA) and SA releases share the same physical layer specifications.
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There are many situations in which a greenfield or even an established operator might want to use the SA version, Keddy said. The NSA version uses an LTE EPC, while the SA version stands independent of LTE.
Interestingly, while Intel has been a big contributor in the 802.11 space for many years, like its rival Qualcomm, it is a founding member of the 5G Automotive Association and has advocated for Cellular V2X, which is challenging DSRC, the 802.11p-based technology, in the connected car space. C-V2X continues to be part of the 3GPP 5G NR Release 16 standards discussions to complement Release 14/15 work.