LIVE FROM THE FUTURE OF WIRELESS INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE, CAMBRIDGE: The challenges presented by global population growth, urbanisation and a growing middle class makes it vital for the technology industry to demonstrate the benefits of new approaches, such as the Internet of Things, according to executives from Intel.

Rod O’Shea (pictured), director of Intel’s embedded sales group for EMEA, said global trends are “clearly driving pressure on networks” due to the increasing demands on energy, infrastructure, public spending and education.

Speaking to Mobile World Live, O’Shea said: “There are some big macro challenges — technology is a requirement to help solve these.”

“One of the things that we clearly want to see is technology deployment that benefits consumers, businesses and countries,” he added.

Intel recently opened IoT labs in Swindon, Stockholm, Istanbul and Munich to show what is possible and deployable. O’Shea explained that demonstrating practical applications rather than technology roadmaps is the main objective of the labs. “We’re changing our activity to focus on that,” he said.

Intel is very conscious that an ecosystem approach is needed to tackle future challenges: “The discussion is now how can you deploy those benefits into the network. Intel realises these kinds of transitions need to take place with partners,” O’Shea explained.

Looking at networks specifically, O’Shea told delegates that Intel’s focus is now on investing in technology that supports “flexible and agile networks”, making use of approaches such as network function virtualisation (NFV) and software defined networking (SDN).

Doug Pulley, CTO for Intel’s wireless and communications infrastructure division, added that heterogeneous network development will be increasingly important due to the greater variety of demands that will be placed on them.

For example, the mix of small cells and big cells and different urban and rural environments “really makes a mess of terrestrial radio propagation”, he noted.

As part of the heterogeneous approach, Pulley said a range of skills are needed: “You can’t innovate with one set of skills. The more skills and expertise that you have around a network or solution that you can bring together, that’s when you get innovation.”

Despite Intel’s approach, O’Shea cautioned that more needs to be done: “We have these really big challenges we need to start addressing now. Technology is a major part of the solution there and clearly as an industry we need to do more.”