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Back in April, Intel CEO Brian Krzanich communicated the company's new strategy: Intel would be shifting its focus away from its traditional PC market to focus on new growth areas that include network cloud, IoT, and 5G. At its recent Intel Developer Forum (IDF16) in San Francisco, the company shared the rationale behind this strategy with the analyst and developer communities.

Intel and others sing the vendor's praises when it comes to network operator solutions

The topics of network cloud, IoT, and 5G are familiar to anyone that has been watching where network operators and their vendors have been investing their money. All of those topics will require fundamental shifts in how operators build their networks; cloud, IoT, and 5G will require operators to move from telco-centric technologies and architectures to more IT-based solutions. For a company like Intel that is firmly planted in the IT world but that also wants to strengthen its presence with network operators, this shift provides major new opportunities. The question for Intel, however, is what it brings to the table. The company spent much of IDF16 answering that very question.

Network cloud, IoT, and 5G are related, with each influencing the other. For example, cloud network transformation will be part of 5G, and one of the major applications of 5G will be IoT. This is a positive for Intel, as its work in one of its key focus areas will also help it succeed with the others. Network transformation will require greater investments in more data centers. Here Intel is working on educating operators on how to implement transformation and create industry-wide standards. This in turn will drive demand for more data centers, servers, and optical networks. All are areas where Intel can support network operators. For IoT, Intel is developing chipsets and modules, and is working with developers to create new IoT applications. With 5G, Intel wants to be a major ecosystem driver. To do so the company is helping to develop the air interface standard, pushing innovation around virtual RAN, network core, devices, and of course the cloud. On the show floor at IDF, the vendor had displays showing some of its 5G work in millimeter wave communications, cloud-RAN with NEC, and LTE-LAA.

Intel singing its own praises as a carrier network partner is one thing, but it is quite another when more prominent players in the telco space do so. The likes of AT&T, Verizon, and NTT DoCoMo all participated at IDF16, and kit vendors Ericsson and Nokia both had prominent positions at the event. This is different than some of Intel's previous attempts to move deeper into the carrier space. Some of those attempts, such as WiMAX, had Intel starting on the outside of the telco space trying to work its way in. This time Intel appears to be working in much tighter alliance with carriers and key carrier suppliers. With a more carrier-focused strategy, those alliances will be needed for the strategy to succeed.


Further reading

NEC and Netcracker Aim to Smooth Path for SDN/NFV Adoption, TE0006-001238 (June 2016)

"LTE will lead the M2M market in 2021," TE0003-000946 (August 2016)


Daryl Schoolar, Principal Analyst, Intelligent Networks

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