Consumers could see the first mobile PCs with 5G connectivity hit the market by the second half of next year, according to Intel, which is working with Dell, HP, Lenovo, and Microsoft to develop such devices.

Intel expects to showcase a concept 5G PC during the Mobile World Congress 2018 conference and expo, set to be held in Barcelona from Feb. 26 through March 1. Intel describes the prototype 2-in-1 as "one of many stepping stones for moving the industry forward in what's possible for 5G-enabled PCs."

The annual MWC is organized by the Groupe Speciale Mobile Association (GSMA), a trade group for the mobile device and services industry.

Many tech companies have begun rolling out 5G pilots and concepts ahead of the expected arrival of faster, more advanced connectivity sometime in 2019. They say 5G, which will support download speeds of up to 10 gigabits per second, will enable a wide variety of new services and technologies, including virtual reality and augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, smart cities, and more.

Eyeing Both 5G PCs and Smartphones

Intel said it is working In collaboration with device makers to pave the way for a new generation of Windows PCs powered by its XMM 8060 5G modem. The XMM 8060 is the first of the company's coming XMM 8000 series of commercial 5G multimode modems, Sandra Rivera, senior vice president and general manager of Intel's Network Platforms Group, noted in an editorial today.

Rivera added that Intel's concept demonstration at MWC will include "a live over-the-air 5G connection to demonstrate the progress we've made to integrate these advanced wireless technologies into the mobile PC platform."

With some of the first 5G connected devices arriving on the market likely to be smartphones rather than PCs, Intel is also working to build its technology into phones, Rivera said.

In fact, Intel also announced today that it has entered into a partnership with Unigroup Spreadtrum & RDA, a fabless semiconductor company that's a subsidiary of China's Tsinghua Unigroup. Together, the two organizations plan to develop a 5G smartphone platform based on Intel modems for the Chinese market. "Undoubtedly, China will be an important market at the forefront of 5G," Intel executive Chenwei Yan said in a statement.

Advanced Demos and Previews at MWC

Next week's Mobile World Congress is set to highlight a number of advanced technologies in its GSMA Innovation City exhibition space. Featured exhibits are expected to include a demonstration of early commercial 5G technologies by Korea's KT Corp., a preview of how 5G networks will be able to improve emergency services communications, and hands-on experiences of 5G-enabled virtual reality gaming.

Commercial 5G connections could reach as many as 1.1 billion people by 2025, according to a GSMA study released last year. Just yesterday, AT&T announced that it would begin offering mobile 5G services to customers in a dozen cities across the U.S.

And today, Lenovo said it would expand operations of its telecom and Internet of Things segment to advance development of 5G and other technologies. The company also plans to demonstrate "the industry's first 5G-ready base station," developed in collaboration with China Mobile, and an Intel-partnered "self-optimizing 5G network solution" at next week's MWC.