SAN FRANCISCO, Calif.—5G may be not much more than a moniker for what comes after 4G, but Intel clarified its vision recently at a keynote during the Intel Developer Forum 2015 (IDF, San Francisco, Aug.18-20). "Seamless" is the goal and it comes at a price.
The top-line is that Intel hopes to apply all its expertise in computing, networking and wireless communications to make a seamless 5G solution that incorporates distributed intelligence at all levels--from the smartphone to the router to the basestation aggregator to cloudlets, clouds and our fastest supercomputers.
The bottom line is that cellular, WiFi, centimeter- and millimeter wavelength bands must be seamlessly integrated from the user's point-of-view, according to Aicha Evans, vice president of platform engineering group and general manager of the communications and devices group at Intel.
"5G is not about faster, but about integrating all types of connectivity," Evans told her keynote attendees at IDF. "The building blocks of 5G are already here today."
To the carriers this integration will come at a price, since 5G-for-all presents the opportunity to kill free WiFi and instead charge users for every data packet they send or receive, no matter which of the integrated communications technologies is used. At Evans' keynote she gathered together carriers, service providers and strategists to outline what it is that they expect from 5G, including Alex Choi, chief technical officer (CTO) of SK Telecom (Asia), Bin Shen, Verizon’s vice president of strategy (U.S.) and Paul McNamara, vice president of Ericsson’s corporate strategy group (Europe).
The goal of 5G is to give even meager mobile devices access to the virtually unlimited power available in the cloud.
However, before the panel painted the world-changing picture of extraordinary speeds and ultra-low latency--at a price--Intel's Sandra Rivera, vice president of the data center group and general manager of the Internet of Things (IoT) described the benefits of 5G to the users.
"Intelligence will begin with at the base station," Rivera asserted to the crowd at IDF. "Creating more immersive experiences."
Rivera described a society where 50 billion devices--even including people with communications implants--will have sub-millisecond access to service-aware networks whose intelligence will begin by being built-into the basestation. These smart basestations will never get overloaded by transparently handing off excess to nearby resources. For the user, that will mean no more dropped calls--ever--and not more sluggish videos--ever. It will also mean a whole new layer of intelligent applications based on service-aware networks that prioritize requests and automatically annex the resources to fulfill them in realtime.
Aicha Evans, vice president of platform engineering group and general manager of the communications and devices group at Intel explains her vision of 5G.
"Software define networking" and "network virtualization," according to Rivera "will be able to seamlessly take advantage of other local resources that have the bandwidth to prevent dropped calls and sluggish videos."
Rivera also made clear that Intel believes it is uniquely positioned to provide the computing power, networking expertise and the wireless communications capabilities to integrate service-aware intelligence across the entire network, from device to the data center using its Network Builders Fast Track program, which will help developers connect everyone in the world by 2020 (using copper, fiber, RF, balloon- and drone-basestations).
Sandra Rivera, vice president of the data center group and general manager of the Internet of Things (IoT) described the benefits of 5G to the users.
The panel made it clear that their major metric was speed--which they predicted would be 100-to-1000 times faster with sub-millisecond latency, enabling the kind of realtime interactivity--such as virtual worlds--which today only exist in science fiction books like William Gibson's Neuromancer which virtually defined the concept of cyberspace as a world on a level-playing-field with nature.
Of course, IoT will be driving 5G--from the end of traffic collisions and driverless cars, to smart cities, to smart agro-business, to worldwide access to education, literacy, health and longevity. In the end, however, all these miracles will come at a price, starting with the end of free WiFi and ending with a worldwide regulatory framework under which everybody's life will be made safer and better--at a price yet to be determined.
Along the way, Intel hopes to help accelerate adoption, standardization and intelligent solutions for equipment and device manufacturers, network operators, service providers and academic institutions. Intel is already working alongside the engineering visionaries making 5G happen, including Nokia's AirFrame Data Center, NTT DoCoMo's advanced field trials, SK Telecom's collaborative development of 5G modems using multiple radio access technologies and its Anchor-Booster Cell effort to combine LTE and WiGig. Intel is also a member of a number of research projects including the 5G Public Private Partnership (5GPPP), the Flex5GWare project and Horizon2020.
— R. Colin Johnson, Advanced Technology Editor, EE Times