SVP of ZTE Corporation
There is no doubt that 5G is under the spotlight now and the world’s tier-one operators are leading the 5G race with large-scale field trials and aggressive commercial deployment progress.
Although 5G enables a promising future, it also presents some challenges. Operators’ decisions on
when, where and how to deploy 5G are not only driven by the availability of 5G spectrum, but also application scenarios, site solution and business model factors. With the introduction of 5G, operators are also facing the challenge of long-term coexistence of 2G/3G/4G/5G networks and rising operational costs.
With the help of innovative wireless products and expanding applications of AI, we do believe the future network will become simple and intelligent, delivering a supreme experience to customers in the 5G era.
At present, the majority of operators have multiple bands and standards in the same site location. It is also very common for several operators to share the same tower and site. Most of the sites have been densely mounted by antennas and RRUs without enough space to add 5G AAUs. Building new sites presents problems including site acquisition difficulties, high investment costs and long construction periods.
To reduce the complexity of siting and ease the deployment of 5G networks, a supremely simple site solution enabled by multi-band, multi-mode, ultra-broadband products are recommended.
The introduction of multi-band, multi-port passive antennas, active and passive hybrid antennas, and ultra-wideband RRU light up a new way to solve the problem of tight antenna installation space in the macro base station. Operators can consolidate and reduce the antennas and RRUs of the existing sites with these products before or during 5G construction, reserve enough space for 5G AAUs, and maximise the utilisation of precious site resources. We think the priority deployment scenarios for 5G includes central business districts; scenic areas; industrial parks; stadiums; campuses and more. Simple site solutions can cover all of these typical scenarios, helping operators to optimise their existing site equipment and deploy 5G networks.
As subscribers migrate from 2G/3G to 4G/5G, operators can also refarm the 2G and 3G spectrum for 4G or even 5G services, based on the multi-mode Radio Unit and software defined Baseband Unit, operators can implement such network evolution via software upgrade.
Besides RAN, multiple independent legacy core networks for 2G/3G/4G and fixed networks also make the network quite complex and difficult to maintain. A fully converged 2G/3G/4G/5G/fixed core network solution can deliver a 5G-oriented, cloudnative and network architecture in one step, enabling dynamic resource sharing, elastic capacity and fast time to market of new services while avoiding repeated investment.
In the 5G era, besides the coexistence of multiple networks, the dense networking of large-scale antenna arrays, the complexity of beam control and parameter adjustment of 5G increase the complexity of network operation by an order of magnitude compared with 4G. SDN, NFV and cloud deployments also disrupt the familiar network operation and maintenance (O&M) model of the operator's team. These challenges urgently need the introduction of AI to improve O&M efficiency.
AI technology represented by machine learning and deep learning can be widely used in network alarm processing; fault root cause analysis; network coverage optimisation; network capacity prediction; digitising user experience and accurate network optimisation; network-level energy management; dynamic scheduling of cloud network resources; and intelligent network slicing, thereby improving network O&M
efficiency and reducing related costs.
In addition, real-time intelligence analysis also enables precise business support, accelerates new service deployment and vertical industry business innovation.
With the rapid growth of smartphone subscribers and soaring data traffic, the user experience will become the key factor for market competition. As we know, multi-dimensional coverage and excellent network performance are the solid foundation to deliver a good experience to customers. Equipment vendors such as ZTE have already released a rich portfolio covering all the mainstream bands and diversity scenarios, along with the rich experience in network delivery and optimisation.
In order to deliver a supreme experience, seamless coverage and excellent network performance are not enough. A tailored network slicing for specific scenarios is the key to ensuring a well-matched user experience. The introduction of 5G networks will not only deliver Gb/s internet access, but also bring on-demand customised services and optimum KPI performance for specific scenarios and applications, thus ensuring extreme user experience.
Besides 5G, the continuous optimisation of 4G networks will not only improve the quality of service for the existing 4G subscribers, but also guarantee consistent user experience when 5G subscribers fallback to 4G network.
Among all the wireless technologies, Massive MIMO is the most important contributor in spectrum efficiency improvement. The successful deployment of Massive MIMO technology in 4G networks has demonstrated its remarkable capability in boosting the network capacity. In the 5G era, we believe AI-based Massive MIMO will bring much higher network capacity and better user experience via dynamic beam control and user tracing.
Based on the deep insight of operators’ demand, continuous innovation capabilities, and mature 5G E2E products and solutions, ZTE will work with operators and partners to deliver supreme simplicity, supremely intelligent networks, and a supreme experience to customer to turn the promise of 5G into reality.