Cisco, Ericsson, Intel Partnering on 5G Networking Router

The announcement by the three companies is part of a larger focus on 5G networks at the Mobile World Congress 2016 show.

5G networks

Cisco Systems, Intel and Ericsson are working together to create what officials for the companies are saying will be the industry's first 5G router.

The companies made the announcement Feb. 22 at the Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2016 show in Barcelona, Spain, saying the router could help accelerate the pace of innovation around 5G, the next generation of cellular networking that is expected to bring up to 100 times the speed of current 4G networks and handle the rapid increase in the numbers of connected devices, the growing Internet of things (IoT) and the rising presence of video on mobile networks.

Both Cisco and Intel expect there will be more than 50 billion connected devices worldwide by 2020, and Cisco officials in the company's recent annual study found that mobile network traffic globally will jump eight times by 2020.

Officials with Cisco, Ericsson and Intel said their work will lead to a router that will enable Gigabit-per-second speeds through the combination of Cisco's networking products, Intel's 5G silicon and Ericsson's 5G mobile networking technology. It's also the latest example of the drive to develop 5G technologies in advance of the adoption of 5G standards, which isn't expected to happen until about 2020. The drive to push 5G innovation forward now is illustrated by the central spot 5G is occupying at MWC this week.

"Collaboration among industry leaders in mobile, computing, and networking is critical to drive innovation and make 5G a reality," Asha Keddy, vice president and general manager of Intel's Next Generation and Standards Group, said in a statement.

Kelly Ahuja, senior vice president of Cisco's service provider products and solutions, said in a statement that the "announcement represents a major step forward in mobile technology that will have a tremendous impact on businesses and consumers."

The announcement by the three companies—all members of Verizon's 5G Technology Forum—is part of a larger initiative laid out by Intel at MWC to partner with a wide range of vendors and carriers around 5G. The giant chip maker also is working with South Korean telco KT to ready 5G trials in 2018 and verify 5G wireless technology and devices, as well as with LG Electronics to develop 5G telematics technology for connected cars.

Other Intel partners include Nokia, which is working with the chip maker on prestandard 5G radio technologies and networking offerings, SK Telecom on developing and verifying 5G mobile device and network products, Verizon on field trials for 5G wireless solutions, and Ericsson and other mobile operators on 5G products and joint trials.

"We're really working with everybody," Aicha Evans, corporate vice president and general manager of Intel's Communication and Devices Group in the Platform Engineering Group, said during a conference call last week with journalists.

It's also the latest step in a partnership between Cisco and Ericsson that was announced in November 2015, a move designed to help the two vendors better address a range of emerging markets—including the IoT, software-defined networking (SDN) and network-functions virtualization (NFV)—and strongly compete in a changing networking space that recently saw Nokia buy Alcatel-Lucent for $16.6 billion and includes a rising Huawei Technologies.

Cisco and Ericsson representatives are conducting more joint visits with customers, and the response has been positive, according to Rob Barlow, director of market management for service provider cross architecture at Cisco.

"They're looking forward to combined solutions so they don't have to worry about the integration work themselves," Barlow told eWEEK.