Intel has been synonymous with computers' processing power; however the company has long dreamt of making their mark in the mobile domain as well. Apparently Intel's ambitions aren't just limited to designing processors and chips that power mobile devices; but rather to powering the cellular communications networks on which these devices run as well. At the ongoing Mobile World Congress, Intel has revealed that they are working with several carriers and equipment makers to augment existing network technologies.
Of these tie-ups, the one with the major impact is with China Mobile, who is running a trial of a 100 cell-sector LTE network on the cloud, using Alcatel-Lucent's radio equipment and the software component is running on Intel Xeon and Atom based servers. On the basis of this trial, Intel hopes to augment an existing base station (the actual component of a telecom network, and one of its costliest components as well) with a data center. On similar lines, Intel's Market Development Director Sandra Rivera claims that Intel's chips are powering networks of Korea's SK Telecom and are also present in Spain's Telefonica network. Intel has also application virtualization trials running with Cisco Systems, Nokia and HP whereas Chinese telecom giants Huawei and ZTE are Intel's partners for the China Mobile trial.
All these trials aim at upgrading the existing format of telecom networks – which basically consists of specialized boxes in three categories, a base transceiver station (BTS) which is basically present at the telecom tower or site and is the primary point-of-contact of the smartphone with the carriers' network. The second is the base switching circuit (BSC) which connects multiple BTS, and finally the master switching circuit (MSC) which connects several BSCs. To keep these boxes talking to one another (for connecting your calls or texts or data) specialized software components are required. These trials being run by Intel aim to move the radio access network (MSC+BSC+BTS) into the cloud, and Intel aims to ingrain themselves with these carriers and equipment makers to ensure their relevancy in this transformation.
The future seems bright, but a transformation of this scale will definitely take its own sweet time to complete. In the meanwhile, we will wait and watch and keep you posted.