Intel is pushing ahead with its 5G roadmap announcing today its first family of 5G New Radio (NR) multimode modems that feature a single baseband but will support different modes. The XMM 8060 will support legacy 3G and 4G networks and operate in both non-standalone and standalone configurations.
Intel said it expects the 8060 modem to be available in mid-2019. The company wouldn’t reveal which devices will launch with the modem but said that it expects it to be in many different form factors.
Interestingly, Intel is announcing this news in advance of the 3GPP releasing its 5G non-standalone NR specification, which is supposed to occur in December. Initially the standards group was supposed to release the specification in March 2018 but moved up the deadline in response to pressure from mobile operators.
5G Coverage Limited at First
Although the chip maker was announcing its modems, the company devoted a lot more time to talking about the evolving 5G ecosystem than it did about its new chipsets. In a call with media to announce the news, Intel executives emphasized that 5G will be about everything from the cloud to the device client, and that the networks must become virtualized first to make 5G possible.
The company, of course, does have a 5G trial platform that it unveiled at the 2016 Mobile World Congress event. The platform uses the company’s field programmable gate array (FPGA) chip design and core processors.
Alex Quach, VP and GM, 5G strategy and program office at Intel, said that Intel expects to see 5G deployments start in 2019 but cautioned that coverage initially will not be ubiquitous.
He said that many countries around the world want to be the first with 5G and he expects that Korean operators, such as Korea Telecom and SK Telecom, will have some commercial 5G networks available in late 2018 to 2019. He also said that AT&T and Verizon, in the U.S., will likely launch around the same time, followed closely by T-Mobile U.S., which may have a network as early as the second half of 2018.