In the past year, although facing many challenges such as network investment, vertical industrial application, business model and ecological construction, the pace of 5G development is still unstoppable. Over 60 networks around the world have started to provide commercial 5G services. ZTE has established extensive cooperation with more than 70 operators and hundreds of vertical customers on 5G. Currently, ZTE has implemented over 60 related use cases involving dozens of industries such as manufacturing, energy, ports, transportation and education.
●Unremitting innovation to build the cost-effective networks for operators
Wireless communications has always been a high-tech industry and is always under the iterative evolution. ZTE always regards innovation as the source of customer value; focuses on technology breakthroughs in key fields; targets swift time-to-market; delivers optimisation in real application scenarios; helps operators lower the total cost of ownership (TCO); and enables business innovation. ZTE has, and will continue to build cost-effective pan-5G（meaning multi-RAT coexistence in the 5G era）networks for operators through unremitting innovations.
First, ZTE has launched a full series of multi-frequency and multi-mode integrated wireless products to support the simplest deployment of pan-5G networks. Our FDD-based tri-band Ultra Broadband Radio (UBR) can deliver a simple module combination to cover the full-band of sub-6GHz networking, from 4G to 5G, which can reduce the number of modules by 70% and power consumption by 30% compared with a traditional solution. The 400M ultra broadband AAU and 300M QCell fully meet RAN sharing requirements, and there is also a full series of products to provide the most cost-efficient deployment across a range of coverage scenarios, including dense urban, suburban, indoor, high-speed railway, tunnel, local hot- and blind-spots. An all-in-one baseband unit (BBU) is compatible with 2G/3G/4G/5G on one BP board, with an industry-leading performance and capacity and NFV, which supports open services capabilities. In terms of simplifying network architecture, ZTE’s dual-mode non-standalone (NSA) and standalone (SA) BTS enables flexible network architectures and a smooth evolution.
In addition to making the most competitive products, ZTE is pursuing construction of the superior performance pan-5G network. As the most important 5G technology, Massive MIMO is critical for network performance. In 2016, ZTE’s Pre5G concept was the first to employ Massive MIMO technologies in commercial 4G networks. Pre5G not only brought substantial profits to operators, but also accumulated a lot of commercial experience, laying a solid foundation for further optimisation of 5G products. In the test of the global 5G commercial networks, ZTE achieved leading system performance, with 5.3GB/s in the downlink using 16 streams and 256QAM; and 1Gb/s in the uplink 1Gb/s with 8 streams and 64QAM. ZTE has delivered many top-quality networks with more than 1Gb/s user data rates across the world, and also simplified the deployment and optimisation process of Massive MIMO equipment. We also launched other innovative solutions including Super DSS and FAST to deliver a superior performance.
Super DSS can enable tri-mode dynamic spectrum sharing of 2G/4G/5G and 3G/4G/5G, compared with more typical dual-mode DSS systems covering 4G/5G. FAST(FDD Assisted Super TDD) is an innovative ZTE technology based on FDD and TDD carrier aggregation, which improves the performance of both down- and uplink, effectively extending the latter’s coverage and reducing latency.
ZTE has improved the energy efficiency of the gNB by around 50% by launching a 7nm chip and GaN PA, and a next generation 5nm chip and PA are on the way. In addition to the smart on/off approach using traditional methods, AI-based intelligent traffic prediction will dynamically adjust the resource allocation and power output to effectively control energy consumption. A deployment of ZTE’s AI-based power saving solution in a large-scale commercial network reduced average daily energy consumption by 10%.
●Actively promoting SA commercialisation to enable business innovations
SA has become the industry’s new goal for 5G networks. SA can fully display the value of 5G networks, enabling differentiated consumer services and fragmented business services, and truly enable 5G business model innovation.
As the pioneer of SA technology innovation and commercialisation, ZTE released the first commercial version of an SBA-based Common Core in the industry. Our Common Core supports comprehensive access of 2G/3G/4G/5G and fixed networks; MEC and E2E slicing; meets all kinds of vertical application scenarios; and has been commercially launched in China Mobile’s NFV network. ZTE was the first in the industry to release a slicing store, which can support one-touch deployment and flexible slicing to deliver one network for all industries, and deliver true model innovation. On the wireless side, ZTE’s full series of products support SA commercial and NSA/SA dual-mode BTS, offering a flexible architecture and smooth evolution. In terms of SA commercialisation, ZTE completed 5GC full verification tests with many mainstream operators, and deployed a large-scale NSA/SA dual-mode commercial network with China Mobile; Europe’s first E2E network slice in Austria; the region’s first call based on an SA architecture and Qualcomm’s X55 chip with Orange; and a full E2E commercial verification using the X55 with China Telecom.
●ZTE always on the way to deliver superior networks
To continue to improve networks, ZTE will apply more innovative solutions in the near future including introducing a 3D plastic antenna, dielectric filter, and integrated antenna filter unit (AFU) to further reduce the weight and volume of AAUs. New generation 5nm chips with better algorithms will deliver super-powerful capabilities, and obviously lower energy consumption, together with new generation GaN PA, cooling structure and materials.
5G has come and 6G is on the horizon. In 2018, ZTE established a dedicated team to systematically research 6G network architecture, new spectrum and air interfaces, integration of the technology with AI and blockchain technologies, and focusing on the cutting-edge basic materials and components related to 6G. At present, ZTE has several innovative cases in the field of wireless research, including super-surface, easy deployment, AI air interface and 3D connections.
Moving forward, ZTE will continue its pursuit of perfection and is willing to cooperate closely to deliver the future together with our industry partners.