The end of the decade may seem a long way off. But in today’s fast-paced world, we will blink, and 2020 will suddenly be upon us. In the communications industry, 2020 is synonymous with the era of 5G, connecting and enriching the lives of every person on earth with amazing new experiences.
5G represents the true convergence of computing and communications - a fundamental shift for the industry. Networks will transform to become faster, smarter, and more efficient to realize the potential for the Internet of Things (IoT) and mobility, enabling richer experiences throughout daily life – augmented reality, smart cities, telemedicine, and more. With initial field trials promised as early as this year, we’re beginning to see how 5G will have a huge impact on the deployment of future services.
By 2020, 5G will have a global impact, servicing a large portion of the expected 50 billion connected devices and 2 zettabytes of annual traffic. Intel is investing in transforming the infrastructure to pave the path to 5G. In partnership with industry leaders we are delivering technologies and spurring innovation for next-generation networks.
5G Technology Vision
The telecom industry has set a high bar for technological advancement for 5G, including a 1,000 times increase in capacity, a 50 times increase in peak data rate, and an order of magnitude reduction in latency. Coupled with this dramatic increase in performance is a need to deliver ultimate flexibility to service a wide array of use cases. Networks must ensure that the highest throughput, lowest latency use cases, such as autonomous vehicles, and the lower performance use cases, such as a smart parking meter, receive the appropriate quality of service.
5G Networks: Faster, Smarter, More Efficient
One way to increase network capacity and flexibility is to implement virtual radio access network (vRAN) architecture to create more efficient infrastructure. vRAN moves the communications signal processing back into a centrally-located, virtualized resource pool. In development for over five years, vRAN is no longer a lab project: vRAN solutions have been publicly announced by NEC, and separately by Nokia and Alcatel-Lucent before their merger. Two more vendors will announce this week at Mobile World Congress, and four operators are already in trials. China Mobile has seen a 30-percent reduction in CapEx and a 53 percent reduction in OpEx.1
Then layer on the power of Mobile Edge Computing (MEC), bringing virtually unlimited compute power to any device, regardless of how small. By adding cloud computing at the edge of the network, network operators can deliver more latency-sensitive, location-aware, data-rich services for IoT and mobile users. vRAN and MEC are just two innovations already forming a critical foundation for tomorrow’s 5G networks.
Intel’s commitment to network transformation is long and deep – with years invested in delivering reference architectures, growing a strong ecosystem, and partnering with end-users. We are also deeply committed to open source and open standards, leading in 5G pre-standards activity, and contributing to OPNFV, OpenStack, OpenDaylight, ETSI NFV, IETF, DPDK, and other open source projects.
With 2015 marking the 50th anniversary of Moore’s Law, Intel continues to launch new computing platforms with the higher performance needed to satisfy 5G requirements. Deploying network functions as virtualized, software-based, general-purpose computing-based solutions will allow the network to realize the benefits of Moore’s Law and innovate at cloud pace. The Intel-based network platforms of 2020 will converge computing and communication workloads to ultimately increase flexibility, agility, reliability, and security for communications service providers, and new experiences for end users
To accelerate 5G deployment, we’re also working with a large number of service providers and telecom equipment manufacturers (TEMs), on several key initiatives:
• With Verizon*, conducting field trials for 5G wireless solutions through the Verizon 5G Technology Forum*. The trials demonstrate how millimeter wave spectrum, which is capable of supporting data at speeds an order of magnitude higher than today and over short distances, is a viable way to deliver high-quality and fast wireless connectivity to homes and businesses.
• With Ericsson*, developing 5G mobile device and network solutions, engaging in joint trials with mobile operators, and opening a 5G lab to enable faster prototyping and testing of new technologies as well as increased innovation within the partner ecosystem.
• With SK Telecom*, developing mobile device and network solutions for Licensed Assisted Access (LAA) in unlicensed spectrum bands, which was standardized with 3GPP Release 13 and will pave the path to 5G by supplementing LTE licensed spectrum, resulting in increased network data capacity, better end user experiences, and new use cases.
Network Architecture for the Future
Whether it’s vRAN, MEC, millimeter wave, or any number of the other new technology innovations deploying today, service providers are already seeing the benefits of re-architecting their networks based on cloud technologies and business models. Today’s industry partnerships and innovations are laying the groundwork for faster, smarter and more efficient 5G wireless networks designed to deliver amazing new experiences throughout daily life. 2020 will be here before we know it, and I can’t wait to see what it will bring.
For those attending Mobile World Congress, come to the Intel booth to see some of the technologies at the forefront of networking.
1. PR Newswire, “The Wireless Network Infrastructure Ecosystem Market 2015-2020 - C-RAN Architecture Networking Gear a $14 Billion Opportunity,” May 15, 2015, www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/the-wireless-network-infrastructure-ecosystem-market-2015-2020---c-ran-architecture-networking-gear-a-14-billion-opportunity-503910711.html.