Intel Lays the Groundwork for America’s 5G Future

For the last 50 years, Intel has been at the forefront of U.S. tech, driving the digitalization of the American economy. Up next: Intel powers the 5G revolution.

Think 5G is all about faster speeds? Think again. This isn’t just another ‘G’: It’s a massive new infrastructure rollout, comparable to the introduction of the national highway system or the electric grid, which will support a wholesale transformation of the American economy.

There is a lot to get excited about. The new generation of wireless unlocks a host of new technologies, public goods, and business opportunities. 5G will accelerate progress in artificial intelligence, offering AI algorithms a tsunami of data from billions of new devices. The oft-discussed Internet of Things (IoT), encompassing everything from smart cities to a new generation of remote medical monitoring, intelligent factories, and hyper-efficient power grids, will finally come to fruition due to an exponential increase in data connectivity. Autonomous vehicles will operate with greater precision thanks to virtually uninterrupted connections, ensuring real-time communication between vehicles and other connected objects. 

In other words, the current investment in 5G promises enormous returns. Accenture calculates the technology will boost annual GDP by $500 billion and create three million new jobs.1 Intel is at the core of this transformation, providing intelligence at every step of the 5G ecosystem, including new 5G modems, a powerful new network infrastructure with the versatility to handle the coming flood of data, and cloud compute—ranging from local edge servers to distant data centers—that will provide our connected country with unlimited intelligence.

"5G will help make our lives smarter and more connected. In fact, our data-centric future will run on 5G,” said Sandra Rivera, general manager of the Network Platforms Group at Intel. “These capabilities will bring enormous benefits—from industrial efficiencies, to increased safety in transportation, to more immersive experiences. 5G requires a new range of technologies, from the cloud to the network to the device, all of which will run on Intel."

No 5G without new IT

Some of these new technologies that make 5G possible are closer to the surface than others. Building on its 4G investments and experiences, Intel will be introducing 5G modems in 2019 that will allow a range of devices, including smartphones and home wireless broadband gateways. Sprint has announced they will sell PCs with Intel modems designed to connect to their future 5G-enabled network.

However, the majority of 5G investment will be less obvious to consumers, happening behind the scenes with critical upgrades to networks and data centers. Research firm Moor Insights and Strategies estimates that by 2025, the sum of IT investments driven by 5G will total $326 billion. 2 According to their report, 56 percent of this spending will be at the data center, and 22 percent will be transformation of networks that support 5G.

Working with partners to launch 5G at massive scale

Telecommunications operators won’t begin broad-scale 5G coverage until 2020, but recently we have seen a number of test deployments that show the potential of the new technology.

In preparation for widespread 5G implementation, Intel released the industry’s first 5G trial platform in 2016. This made it possible for Intel to test 5G wireless technology across multiple U.S. markets, working closely with telecom equipment manufacturers such as Ericsson and Nokia.

This June, Intel partnered with Fox Sports, Ericsson, and AT&T to “unplug the wires” at the U.S. Open Golf Tournament on DirecTV, broadcasting live with 5G network connectivity at gigabit speeds. They worked with two 4K HDR cameras set up at the seventh hole—a par 3 and the trickiest hole of the event—illustrating the cost savings of not having to run cables across the course.

Intel was the first to successfully test a 5G-connected car with partners Ericsson, Toyota, and NTT DoCoMo, a leading mobile phone operator in Japan. Using the Intel® GO™ 5G Automotive Trial Platform, a car travelling almost 20 mph was able to download 4K video at ultra-fast speeds and low latency from nearby “small cell” base stations—the small-scale antennas that wireless companies will attach to utility poles, street lights, and the sides of buildings as part of the 5G infrastructure rollout.

The nation’s 5G needs to be built by american innovators

Unprecedented connectivity entails new national security considerations, and it’s important that U.S. technology firms provide a variety of 5G solutions.

“When you think about the larger safety and prosperity of nations, technological leadership is crucial for that. 5G is one of the key parts of what technological leadership will look like in the future, and that makes it essential for national security,” said James Lewis, senior vice president at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Among U.S. companies, Intel is the third-largest investor in R&D3, with more than 50,000 employees in high-paying high-tech jobs.4 Including its partner and supplier network, Intel supports more than 500,000 jobs throughout the country.4 Unlike most U.S. technology companies, Intel operates the majority of its manufacturing and R&D in the U.S.4 R&D and capital expenditures last year amounted to $24.9 billion.5 6

Groundbreaking technology should be supported by lawmakers

U.S. competitiveness in key 4G technologies is essential to U.S. leadership in 5G. Lawmakers must ensure there is a healthy competitive environment for components that are fundamental to the 5G infrastructure, like modems, so that the U.S. markets are not overly dependent on a limited number of suppliers. This model was highly successful in the development of PCs, where a diverse ecosystem of equipment manufacturers has benefitted both American tech and consumers for decades.

"There is a big question about the economic competitiveness of core innovation technologies,” said Doug Brake, director of broadband and spectrum policy at the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation. “Deploying the infrastructure to allow for this 5G capability is a key hurdle for a successful wide-scale deployment, and it will have weighty consequences."

In order for 5G to become a reality, lawmakers and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) are doing work of their own. There are quick wins, such as making more mid-band spectrum—the expanded frequency spectrum that the new technology would use—available in a market-friendly manner. The FCC has also made progress in other areas, such as making it easier and cheaper for businesses to attach 5G small cells to utility poles.

Progress must continue if 5G is to come to market at massive scale over the next years. Following its leadership role in setting new radio standards and making more wireless spectrum available, Intel is working alongside lawmakers and a wide variety of partners to accelerate 5G rollout.

When it arrives, experts expect a sea change for American businesses and consumers.

"There’s excitement for new verticals around industrial IoT and critical communications, for example—areas where you need an extremely reliable low-latency communication for widespread IoT services,” said Brake. “I am absolutely convinced that 5G has one of the largest opportunities for positive impact for productivity growth throughout the entire economy. 5G moves beyond the mobile carrier-to-consumer relationship to a whole vista of new business model opportunities."

America’s 5G starts with Intel. To discover how Intel is powering this new chapter of connectivity, click here

“5G requires a new range of technologies, from the cloud to the network to the device, all of which will run on Intel.”

—Sandra Rivera, general manager of the Network Platforms Group, Intel

“5G is one of the key parts of what technological leadership will look like in the future, and that makes it essential for national security.”

—James Lewis, senior vice president at the Center for Strategic and International Studies