Megabits per Second won’t Define 5G

Earlier this month at Super Mobility Week, 5G dominated the conversation about what’s next for the wireless industry, and how that will impact network carriers and everyday people. It was clear that wireless industry is already hard at work on how to address the challenges and opportunities for 5G, as well as how we should take advantage of all the capabilities that LTE has to offer.

During the conference, I had the opportunity to join my peers, leading mobile experts from Samsung, Qualcomm and Ericsson, on a 4G Americas panel that took a closer look at where we are in the evolution to 5G and the industry’s expectations for 5G network deployments by 2020.

One thing my co-panelists and I all agreed upon is that 5G will be unlike any other wireless communication standard before it, addressing a very different set of challenges than previous generations. Whereas 1G to 4G were focused on improving connectivity and speed, 5G will be about intelligence.

What does this mean? It means 5G will not simply be about making our cellular connections faster, or adding more network capacity. It will also need to solve a more complex challenge of combining communications and computing together, so that intelligence is at a user’s fingertips and available to the machines that make up the Internet of Things. We anticipate 5G will be the first network standard designed to be versatile and energy-smart for the hyper-connected ‘Internet of everything’ world.

In this next generation standard, communication capabilities and processing power will need to be diffused and intelligently managed across networks and mobile devices, empowering even the smallest connected devices to do heavy computational tasks and deliver rich content and services through its connection to the cloud. 5G networks are expected to not only be faster, but also smarter. Therefore, the way we measure 5G network performance will be very different than before. Bits per second was a standard way of measuring network performance, but 5G will encompass much more – what I like to call bits per joule, bits per Hertz, bits per square meter of coverage and bits per dollar. This is because measurements like energy efficiency, spectrum performance, reliability and cost will be crucial for 5G.

Laying the foundation for 5G is extremely complex as we have to solve a variety of issues, but the global wireless industry is certainly making efforts and investing heavily in this new standard. Every time we think we are reaching the practical limits of data usage, new user behaviors or new consumer technologies push the envelope even farther. To meet this rapidly growing demand, wireless carriers are faced with a need to deliver an increasing amount of bandwidth to their customers, squeezing ever-more capacity out of a finite amount of spectrum.

Intel has a strong legacy of supporting wireless standardization efforts through our work with a multitude of standards bodies worldwide. Adding to those efforts, we have recently joined the 4G Americas Board of Governors to foster the advancement and full capabilities of LTE and LTE-Advanced, in the evolution toward a 5G world. Together with fellow board members from AT&T, Cisco, Sprint, HP and Ericsson, our aim is to build effective and successful communications standards that enables people from all over the world to enjoy a better user experience, anywhere and everywhere, using an assorted set of devices big and small.

The bottom line is that end users do not care about acronyms like 3G, 4G or 5G, or how a network is set up – they just want to be connected to the people and things that matter the most. Intel and our industry partners are committed to meeting their needs today and into the future.

*A version of this blog post appeared on WIRED’s Innovation Insight: http://insights.wired.com/profiles/blogs/the-evolution-to-5g#axzz3EpWUq6Xa

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About Asha Keddy

Asha R. Keddy is Corporate Vice President at Intel Corporation, where she also serves as the General Manager of Next Generation and Standards (NGS) Group. A recognized industry leader, Keddy’s passion is in understanding how advancements in technology can improve the lives of people, and the environment in which we live—creating a safer, healthier, smarter society for all. Keddy’s organization enables new business verticals and applications - participating in industry consortia; contributing to global standards; developing and testing prototypes in trials, and driving product innovation. Her team facilitates trials with other ecosystem partners, key learnings from which have been influential in setting government and industry policy, and in furthering the convergence of communications and computing with end-to-end technology solutions. This work will open up new market opportunities in multiple verticals, including games, sports, connected cars, and smart cities, while bringing forward the advanced capabilities of artificial intelligence, visual data, mixed reality and connectivity-based technologies to address residential, enterprise and industrial business needs. Keddy’s vision of innovation is based on iterative development, insights about people, and a commitment to partnerships with industry and governments alike. Keddy leads 5G partner strategy and development efforts for Intel. This multi-year investment, her team’s work, and dozens of trials with industry-leading manufacturing, operator, and vertical partners have resulted in several world “firsts.” These accomplishments will accelerate 5G commercial deployment across industrial, automotive, fixed wireless and enterprise use cases in all major geographies. The learnings and Intellectual Property (IP) from these engagements will also serve to evolve the development of system architectures and incubation of technologies and IP for wireless at Intel. Ms. Keddy lives in the Portland, Oregon, and in her personal time enjoys reading, painting, hiking, biking and kayaking with her husband and dog.