After launching its 5G modem chip early this year, Intel has announced plans to commercialize the technology in 2019. The company said its XMMTM 8060 modem is already making 5G calls using spectrum in the 28 GHz band.

The XMMTM 8060 will support both sub-6GHz bands and millimeter wave spectrum bands, as well as both standalone and non-standalone 5G New Radio. Non-standalone 5G, which many operators are expected to deploy first, uses 5G to transmit data and LTE to control that data in the core network.

In addition, Intel’s 5G modem will support LTE, 3G and 2G. The company said this multi-modal connectivity will be critical to operators once 5G deployments begin in 2019.

“When 5G is initially deployed we don’t expect the coverage to be ubiquitous,” explained Intel VP Chenwei Yan, general manager for the company’s connected products and programs. “Consumer devices will have to operate in 5G when they can,” he said. When 5G isn’t available, devices will need to fall back to LTE or 3G.

Yan said operators will design their networks differently, but Intel wants equipment makers to be able to market devices that work on all parts of all networks. “With multimode capability a device maker can use one single design to satisfy the needs of all various network configurations and operator designs,” he said, adding that the new modem is intended for use in customer premise equipment, smartphones, personal computers and other devices.

Intel has been extremely aggressive in its efforts to become a major supplier of 5G chipsets and is part of more than a dozen publicly announced 5G projects. Companies working with Intel on 5G include AT&T, Verizon, Telefónica, China Unicom, Vodafone, DoCoMo, Ericsson, Nokia, Huawei, GE, Honeywell, NEC, and Foxconn. Of course, some of these companies are also working on 5G trials and projects with other chipset vendors as well. Intel distinguishes itself from competitors by offering solutions for every part of 5G networks: data centers, radio access networks, and end-user devices.

“5G is only as capable as the networks that support it,” said Yan. “We are building a 5G superhighway from cloud to client.”

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