INTERVIEW: Ahmed Ibrahim, Director, Global Business Development–Service Providers on global technological trends & 5G at Intel Corporation

Monday 12 Dec 2022

Ahmed Ibrahim


Q. What are the top 5 trends to watch out for in 2023?

  • 5G: Consumers globally have begun to benefit from 5G’s initial promises making the new global wireless standard one of the most important trends in 2023. 5G enables a new type of network that virtuallyconnects everything, including machines, objects, and devices, providing multi-gigabit per second peak data speeds, ultra-low latency, increased reliability, massive network capacity among other advantages.
  • Metaverse: Dubbed as the next generation of the internet, Metaverse will enableconsumers to work, meet and network in three-dimensional space avatars.
  • Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning: Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology enables a machine to mimic human behavior. The goal of AI is to create smart computer systems to solve complex problemssimilar to humans.Machine learning is a part of AI, which focuses on the use of data and algorithm, thus, enabling machines to provide accurate results, using data.
  • Robotic Process Automation (RPA): Another key trend to keep an eye on in 2023 is robotic process automation (RPA). A software enabled business process automation technology using AI. Using RPA tools such as ‘bots’ generates an automatic response to an email or query. This way businesses can configure software to become more streamline, reduce staffing costs and mitigate human error.

According to Computer Economics Avasant Research, RPA tool have been adopted by 20% of organizations across all sectors in June 2021, up from 13% in 2020.

  • Edge & Quantum Computing: Even though scientists have been exploring quantum computing for decades, recent breakthroughs have sparked interest in quantum and edge computing among the technology community globally.

Quantum computing is a new computing paradigm that harnesses the power of quantum mechanics to deliver the ultimate in parallel computing. It has the potential to tackle problems that conventional computing would never be able to. Whereas Edge Computing uses distributed information technology architecture.Edge computing shifts data processing and storage closer to where the data is created to provide faster access to insights while saving time and money.

  • The no-code revolution vs the low-code: In the coming years, no-code and low-cade apps will gain popularity among developers. No-code is fairly simple to create and often does not require any programming experience, whilst the latter allows users to create new business processes using simple tools that require little, if any, code. Low-code programming enables more complex scenarios and unique coding.
  • Sustainable energy solutions: As more and morepeople are becoming conscious of environmental impact and given that the energy industry is one of the highest contributors to pollution on the planet, there is a strong push to discover new solutions to the industry's sustainability issues. Sustainable energy solutions are going to grow rapidly over the course of 2023 as governments and entities pledge to make eco-friendly movements.
  • Cyber Security: Cyber security has always been a hot topic, and this time is no exception. Governments and corporations are continually on the lookout for new technologies, methods, and controls to safeguard systems, networks, programs, devices, and data from cyber-attacks and preventing unauthorized use of systems, networks, and technologies.
  • Everything-as-a- service: Another trend to keep an eye out for is ‘Everything as a service’ (EaaS, XaaS, *aaS). This is the ability to call up re-usable, fine-grained software components over a network. It is a subset of cloud computing, and several businesses have been linked to the "everything as a service" concept.

Q. So, what are the trends driving the need for 5G?

Firstly: The Internet of Things. This enormous network of connected machines is transforming how we monitor, manage, and produce things—and it's generating a massive amount of data. 

In fact, IDC predicts that IoT devices will generate more than half of the world’s data by 2025. [Source: IDC and Seagate, 2018]

Combined with cloud computing power, all of this IoT data can feed an AI engine. That engine delivers new levels of machine-to-machine coordination that can improve lives and accelerate economic growth. 

But a world where billions of things become smart and connected won’t work on 4G networks. They weren’t designed to support all that data traffic. More capacity is needed to scale. Capacity to handle huge networking workloads—akin to building a bigger pipe—is required, but capacity in managing the number of connections has to expand as well. 

Secondly: Video is huge. Video creation as well as consumption and sharing. How many times have you been at a stadium and showed full bars but had zero bandwidth? Or been watching a pivotal moment of your favorite Netflix show when it stops to buffer? That frustrates us all. 

Well, video streaming will soon account for more than 80% of internet traffic. Flexible 5G networks with high data speeds in the tens of gigabits per second along with the visual cloud are ideal for allocating enhanced capacity at events and streaming high-bandwidth content. Not to mention, facilitating the proliferation of new immersive media like 3D volumetric video.  

And for media and broadcasting companies, 5G means the ability to explore different distribution models like direct delivery or enhanced content with the certainty that high-speed mobile networks will deliver an experience consumers will love. 

Lastly: One of the biggest game-changers for 5G is the ultra-low latency it will provide. Human communication can accommodate a lot of latency—and we can still understand each other. When machines need to communicate directly whether robots on a production line of remote-controlled excavating equipment—ultra low latency is required. 

5G mobile networks will be able to deliver ultra-low (wired-like) latency. That opens up a whole new ball game in terms of usages—like controlling machinery remotely hence reducing risk to humans, eSports players will be able to play from anywhere, and even use cases like remote real-time controlled surgery are all being explored. 

Q. What new applications will be possible with 5G?

What happens when compute is everywhere? It provides a springboard to a range of new and enhanced services. It changes the way we connect with the world as systems and processes adapt and learn in real time. It transforms our cities and industries while driving disruption and creating opportunities around the globe. 

Like 4G enabled the mobile app economy, 5G is enabling a whole new wave of innovation and business transformation on a much larger scale. In fact, transformed 5G networks are forming the infrastructure for a fully connected, mobile, and smart society. 

History has proven that technology is the catalyst for massive societal transformation. And the technologies at play right now are incomparable to the technologies that have come before: The rise of AI. The emergence of the edge. A massive amount of Internet of Things data. Transformed 5G networks. 

These powerful advancements are coming together to open up previously unimaginable business and financial opportunities. And businesses that adapt have a chance to provide their customers with better experiences, transform their operations for gains in productivity, or even disrupt their industries with entirely new services.  

We’ve seen technology change industries before. Consider the “Sharing” or “App” Economies that gave rise to business ‘unicorns’ like Airbnb and Uber, which were powered by smaller technology paradigm shifts. Those new digital business models ushered in by personal computing, the internet, ubiquitous connectivity, and smartphones gave birth to whole new economies. 

And 5G is about to do the same. In fact, it’s estimated that by 2035, the 5G industry value chain will be worth $2.5 trillion dollars. And while that’s impressive, it’s nothing compared to the global economic output 5G will create across industries, including perhaps yours. By 2035, the “multiplier effect” of 5G will produce $13 trillion dollars of revenue. [Source: IHS, January 2019]

Intel is in the best position to build out 5G because of our heritage. We utilize our experience and expertise from the cloud, enterprise, and network at every step. In doing so, we’re uniquely able to help service providers monetize, deploy efficiently, and expand their 5G reach beyond consumer phones and into different enterprises and verticals. The true vision of 5G will be delivered by a transformed network and innovative new usages, not by a faster smartphone. Intel’s semiconductor products (CPU’s Chipsets, Memory) are fundamental building blocks of any 5G Network, including Network Core, Radio Access Network (RAN) and Edge compute nodes. Technologies like 5G, AI, and edge computing will become essential ingredients as intelligence is distributed across the network to revolutionize industries like retail, manufacturing, healthcare, and cities. Intel’s investments in 5G technologies are transformative, not just to networks, but to the very way data is transferred and processed—infusing intelligence from the edge to the cloud to enable devices of all shapes and sizes with the massive power of a data center.   

Q. Are 5G and Wi-Fi 6 networks complementary?

For years, two different types of wireless technology have coexisted. Wi-Fi is a type of local area network (LAN) used primarily indoors—for example, inside a home or workplace. Cellular networks, like the 4G LTE networks used by major operators, are a type of wide area network (WAN) used both indoors and outdoors, generally over long distances.

Both 5G and Wi-Fi 6 are complementary technologies that provide higher speeds, lower latency, and increased capacity over their predecessors. Wi-Fi and 5G offer complementary functionalities. Where the user experience is concerned, 5G and Wi-Fi 6 can both achieve gigabit speeds and low latency.

Because Wi-Fi has a lower cost to deploy, maintain, and scale—especially where access points need to serve more users—it will continue to be the predominant technology for home and business environments. This provides great support for dozens of data-hungry devices, like PCs, tablets, smartphones, streaming devices, TV sets, and printers, which must all connect to the network. Thanks to its longer range, 5G will be used for mobile connections, like smartphones. It will also be used for connected cars, smart city deployments, and even for large manufacturing operations.

The two technologies handle network management differently. Wi-Fi uses unlicensed spectrum, so you and your whole neighborhood can each have your own Wi-Fi network without getting a license to use it. However, this can mean your Wi-Fi performance is impacted by how many neighbors are using their network at the same time and on the same channel as you. When used in offices and other enterprise environments, Wi-Fi tends to be heavily managed to meet a desired performance goal.

5G and LTE networks typically are managed by operators and use a dedicated, licensed spectrum that requires subscription fees to access. As with LTE, 5G performance will depend on how many “bars” you have—in other words, how close you are to a base station—and how many other people are using the network.

Of course, there are exceptions to these generalizations. At the end of the day, whether to use 5G or Wi-Fi 6 depends on the specific use case.

As Wi-Fi and cellular wireless technologies continue to evolve in parallel, the core networks that are the backbone for all Internet connectivity are transforming as well. This process is known as cloudification, since it extends the use of data center technologies from the cloud into the network. Cloudification lays the foundation for carriers to support the growing volumes of data and billions of connected nodes that enable new use cases.

Intel brings our heritage as a leader in cloud computing to transform the networks that power 5G and Wi-Fi—becoming part of the fabric of the network in the same way that our technologies serve as the backbone of the data center.

Intel® Technologies for 5G and Wi-Fi 6: Intel is at the center of 5G and Wi-Fi 6 advancements, from contributing to standards to providing core compute resources for a range of devices. Intel powers Wi-Fi 6 performance in routers and access points—as well as in PCs and other client devices—with Intel® Wi-Fi 6 (Gig +). On the cellular side, Intel® 5G technologies enable new capabilities for network transformation and optimization for network operators around the world.

Far from being competitors in a zero-sum game, Wi-Fi 6 and 5G are technologies that will work together to enable next-generation experiences. Today’s agile networks, enabled by Intel technologies, are evolving to optimize traffic for seamless experiences across all network types.

Q. What are some of the 5G challenges enterprises need to avoid?

As the world prepares for the 5G revolution, the transition from a 4G to a 5G network will undoubtedly present some challenges. Increasing data volume is one of these problems, as the amount of data that businesses collect and operate with grows every day. Similarly, one of the most widely claimed benefits of 5G networks is that they make it easier for enterprises to implement Internet of Things (IoT) infrastructure, which will significantly increase data usage.

The implementation of 5G network raises several security problems. For example, 5G networks transmit a lot more data per unit time and is therefore more profitable for thieves to try data exfiltration. Users who have complete control over their devices are also more likely to download malware in comparison to before, implying that firms have no room for error when it comes to irresponsible device use.

In addition, most businesses upgrading to 5G will need to purchase a significant quantity of new equipment posing a logistical challenge.Hence, enterprises must prepare for the challenges ahead and plan forward.

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