Intel’s venture capital unit last year invested $250 million in Reliance Industries Ltd‘s Jio Platforms unit, saying the two companies would find areas of technology partnership. On Monday, Intel said it will work on “co-innovations” with Reliance Jio for its 5G radio-access network (RAN), among other things.
“This is the fruit of that partnership,” Navin Shenoy, executive vice president and general manager of the data platforms group at Intel, told Reuters in an interview. “5G in India is going to be massive, and (Reliance Jio) are doing it in a non-legacy way.”
Reliance Jio is one of many carriers around the world using a new approach to build 5G networks. Rather than using gear primarily from telecommunications-specific firms such as Nokia, Ericsson or Huawei Technologies Cos, carriers are shifting toward using software to handle more network functions and tapping the same kind of standard computing equipment used in data centers to run the networks.
Intel, for its part, has been losing share in its core data center and personal computing markets to rivals such as Advanced Micro Devices Inc after years of manufacturing troubles. But networking chips have become an increasingly important part of its business, growing 20% in 2020 to account for $6 billion of its $77.9 billion in overall sales.
Dan Rodriguez, general manager of Intel’s network platforms group, said part of that growth has come from Intel’s decision nearly a decade ago to invest in software akin to an operating system for its network chips. The system, called FlexRAN, lets carriers or software firms write code for 5G networks.
Intel said Monday that software from Cohere Technologies could double utilization of some network spectrum using Intel’s chips, benefiting carriers that spend billions acquiring spectrum rights.