Intel to support new non-standalone NR standard in Q4

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Intel says its 5G Mobile Trial Platform is powered by high-performance Intel FPGAs and Intel Core processors.

Intel’s 5G Mobile Trial Platform will begin to support the new non-standalone (NSA) New Radio (NR) standard when available in the fourth quarter of this year for live tests and trials.

Intel said that when the NSA NR is finalized, it will be ready to work with leading telecom equipment vendors to make sure the radio access network and the device side successfully operate within the initial NR standard. Intel’s Asha Keddy also said in a blog post that Intel will join with operators to take non-standalone NR out of the lab and begin testing it in real-world situations.

“This heightened pace of development means we’ll be able to help the industry meet ambitious targets to deploy commercial 5G services before 2020,” she said.

The industry is facing a December deadline to get the NSA version of the 5G NR done, with the standalone (SA) version of 5G NR set to be done by September 2018.

Even though the NSA standard isn’t finalized, a lot of the NR work is all but done, meaning most of the industry knows the last remaining study items and many of those items are not expected to greatly affect the architecture and how it’s applied on the platform, according to Rob Topol, general manager, Advanced Technologies, Client and IOT business and systems architecture at Intel. If something comes up before the December vote, adjustments can be made.

“We actually wanted to jumpstart interoperability development testing with infrastructure companies right away in Q4” so when the standards voting is done in December, “we can immediately already start turning towards operator trials,” he told FierceWirelessTech. “Think of it as a running start.”

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Many industry leaders have been optimistic the December deadline will be met even though there were some doubts earlier this year. Based on talks with Intel’s standards team, “we are seeing good progress,” Topol said, with maybe 70% of the work done. For the most part, the areas that might affect architecture have been resolved.

It helps that it was broken into two, with the December and September deadlines. “I’m pretty confident between the two, the NR work will be completed. What we’re seeing for December is really good progress,” he said.

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Intel started establishing partnerships within the past two years with operators and the goal was to make sure its platform could handle any use case that comes along. Since the company announced the Intel 5G Mobile Trial Platform at MWC in 2016, it has been collaborating with equipment vendors like Ericsson and Nokia and participating in trials with operators like AT&T, Korea Telecom, NTT DoCoMo and Verizon.

Intel’s 5G Mobile trial platform features include 3GPP NR early interoperability and up to 10 Gbps throughput. It supports these bands: 600-900 MHz, 3.3-4.2 GHz, 4.4-4.9 GHz, 5.1-5.9 GHz, 28 GHz and 39 GHz for worldwide testing.

With AT&T, Intel initially was involved in a trial at Intel facilities in Austin, Texas, where they wanted to observe office connectivity functions and learn how millimeter wave behaves in an enterprise. Later, Intel was involved with AT&T’s field trials, including an apartment building and businesses where they learned more about antenna arrays and serving different types of environments.