Asha Keddy, vice president and general manager of next generation standards at Intel Communications and Devices Group, noted in a blog post that the company’s platform would be the first of its kind to specifically support the 5G non-standalone NR specification.
“When the non-standalone NR specification is finalized, Intel will be ready to quickly begin work with the leading telecommunications equipment manufacturers to make sure the radio access network and the device side successfully operate within the initial NR standard,” Keddy wrote. “We’ll also join with operators to take non-standalone NR out of the lab and begin testing it in real-world situations.”
The non-standalone specification utilizes the current 4G mobile network core, while the standalone specification is set to rely on a 5G-specific network core. The 3GPP standards body is scheduled to release the non-standalone specification by year-end, with the standalone specification schedule for release by the end of 2018.
Intel first unveiled its 5G trial platform at the 2016 Mobile World Congress event. It has since collaborated with vendors and carriers, including Ericsson, Nokia, AT&T, Korea Telecom, NTT DoCoMo, and Verizon. The platform uses the company’s field programmable gate array (FPGA) chip design and Core processors.
Intel isn’t the only vendor aggressively pushing its 5G plans. Ericsson recently added new capabilities to its 5G platform designed to foster network deployments scheduled to begin as early as next year.
Standards progress has been bumpy, with reports that the current rush to meet accelerated timelines was harming what are typically deliberate steps. A report in June from Signals Research Group noted a number of items related to work on the 5G non-standalone NR specification had been delayed or stopped.
The 3GPP earlier this year caved to operator pressure and agreed to move up the deadline on the 5G non-standalone NR specification from March 2018 to December 2017.
SDN, NFV Key to 5G
Keddy highlighted the importance of virtualization technologies in the development of 5G networks. She cited the need to replace “static, fixed-function equipment with a virtualized, software-defined network (SDN).”
“5G can happen only when the network, cloud, and device come together into a powerful end-to-end 5G solution,” Keddy wrote.
Günther Ottendorfer, chief operating officer of technology at the carrier, in a blog post said the carrier has spent the past couple of years deploying its OpenStack cloud-based NFV platform. He explained the deployment has been “an essential building block” as the carrier builds toward its 5G network.