Intel is bringing fast 5G wireless connectivity to PCs next year

Qualcomm may have the edge when it comes to 4G connected PCs at the moment, but Intel is fighting back. The Santa Clara chip maker said it is collaborating with industry partners to inject Windows laptops with 5G connectivity next year.

Intel is working with Dell, HP, Lenovo, and Microsoft on the high-speed initiative. Upcoming 5G-capable PCs will use Intel's XMM 8000 series commercial 5G modems to deliver much faster wireless speeds to detachable 2-in-1 devices and laptops. Intel also hinted at there being 5G gaming laptops, as it made a point to extol the benefits of 5G on gaming.

"Imagine immersing in untethered VR from anywhere in the world, or downloading a 250 megabyte file in seconds from a parking lot. Or imagine being able to continue participating in a multiplayer game as you ride in an autonomous vehicle on the way to class. Radically different. This is just a sampling of the experiences 5G will reimagine for the mobile PC," Intel said.

Safety regulators would likely take issue with Intel's example of playing games while behind the wheel of an autonomous vehicle, unless someone else is sitting in the driver's seat and is ready to take control when/if needed. But the bigger point is that 5G connectivity would make it possible to play games on a cellular connection, assuming latency is not an issue.

Of course, host hardware is only half of the equation. It will be some time before wireless carriers deploy 5G networks to the masses, though the process has at least started. AT&T aims to have 5G available in a dozen markets by the end of the year, and Verizon is shooting for up to five markets. Sprint and T-Mobile both plan to start rolling out 5G next year.

There has not been any talk of speeds, though generally speaking, 5G is much faster than 4G—about 20 times faster, based on theoretical peak downloads. Some early estimates suggest a much bigger gap, though a reasonable estimate is that 5G will provide at least 100 megabits-per-second (Mb/s).