UC Berkeley to join major tech companies in advancing 5G networks


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Intel announced in a press release Tuesday that UC Berkeley will join several major tech companies in forming the 5G Innovators Initiative, which is focused on bringing technology and academia together to advance fifth generation networks in the United States.

In collaboration with Intel, Ericsson, Honeywell and General Electric, the campus will work toward transforming network infrastructure in a variety of fields, including telecommunications, healthcare, finance and security. Fifth generation, or 5G, mobile networks, are a new industry standard and they move beyond communications to adapt to the growing needs of various industries, according to Nimish Radia, director of research at the Bay Area branch of Ericsson.

“The (5G Innovators Initiative) will join major equipment manufacturers, leading technology companies, industry leaders and top universities to explore, test and innovate with 5G network and distributed edge technologies to accelerate the adoption of 5G wireless and infrastructure innovation,” the Intel press release said.

Ion Stoica, campus electrical engineering and computer science professor who is involved in the initiative, emphasized the interdisciplinary advantages of the initiative’s open-source development. With open-source, contemporary developers write and place software into the public domain for collaborative data processing. Stoica stressed the breadth of fields that will be impacted by 5G, as more real-time information becomes available for active processing.

Stoica is a director of campus computer science laboratory RISELab, where research for the initiative will take place. According to Radia, real-time data processing will contribute to expenditures familiar to UC Berkeley students, such as autonomous driving, robotics and virtual and augmented realities.

“Berkeley is leading the research,” said Stoica. “This is not a contract, but about reputation. I’m very excited about it.”

Prabal Dutta, campus associate professor of electrical engineering and computer science, characterized the 5G collaboration as an opportunity for the campus to help innovate in a noncompetitive environment, adding that UC Berkeley has always been a “vanguard” for research in electrical engineering and computer science.

“Berkeley has a tradition of leading and defining emerging technology,” said Dutta. “(Our campus) works with industry to make sure research aligns with real needs in the marketplace.”

Ericsson and Intel consider Stoica’s RISELab a cornerstone of the two companies’ involvement with the UC Berkeley campus, according to Radia. Radia added that the two organizations regard UC Berkeley as a longstanding partner and have funded labs on the UC Berkeley campus.

Stoica said collaborations between campuses and the tech industry help bridge gaps between software and hardware to improve long-term design. According to Intel spokesperson Asha Keddy, the 5G Innovators Initiative will combine the strengths and “intellectual capital” of its participants to foster future innovation.

“This is not a timed collaboration, but a long-lasting journey,” said Radia. “We’re looking at multiple disciplines coming together.”

Contact Ani Vahradyan at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @anivahrad.