5G moving forward: Intel announces 5G modem, AT&T announces migration plan

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Intel is attempting to streamline and accelerate the deployment of next-generation wireless internet connectivity with a new, global 5G modem, while AT&T chooses to not wait for a standard to emerge, and is moving forward with its own testing plan.

The modem's baseband chip pairs with a new 5G transceiver that enables both sub-6Ghz and millimeter-Wave capabilities. The combination implemented by Intel incorporates key 3GPP 5G NR technology including low latency frame structures, advanced channel coding, and massive MIMO

Intel's stated goal for the program is to support both early trials and to lay a foundation enabling more rapid development of products that will support the 3GPP NR specification and help drive global adoption of the 3GPP 5G standard.

Intel claims that the technology will enhance the "internet of things" platform, as well as greatly expand upon vehicle-to-vehicle communications allowing for improvements in emergency response, and autonomous vehicles.

"5G will enable industries to improve our daily lives. With 5G, autonomous vehicles will be able to make decisions in milliseconds to keep drivers and vehicles safe," writes Intel Corporate Vice President Aicha Evans. "Drones will aid in disaster recovery efforts, providing real-time data for emergency responders. Smart cities will monitor air and water quality through millions of sensors, giving them insights needed to provide a better quality of life."

A pair of tear-downs performed shortly after the iPhone 7 release confirmed previous speculation that Apple used multiple vendors for cellular modems in the iPhone 7 family, with an Intel-made wireless modem found in a model for AT&T and T-Mobile, and Qualcomm in other models.

The new Intel modem chipset will begin the sampling process in the second half of this year. The late date means that the chips will most likely not be available for any "iPhone 7S" or "iPhone 8" rumored model in 2017.

AT&T is doing its own thing with 5G

Also announced on Wednesday, AT&T revealed a 5G Evolution plan, with the company shooting for 1Gbps speeds in 2017 with 4G LTE, and 5G video trials using the DirecTV Now content hosting platform in Austin, Texas.

"Our 5G Evolution plans will pave the way to the next-generation of higher speeds for customers," said AT&T Chief Strategy Officer of Technology and Operations John Donovan. "We're not waiting until the final standards are set to lay the foundation for our evolution to 5G. We're executing now."

AT&T will be teaming up with Qualcomm and Ericsson in the end of 2017 to facilitate expansion of the technology, assuming the early trials go well.