At the award ceremony of the Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2016, known as the Oscar in the telecom industry, ZTE won the Best Mobile Technology Breakthrough and the Outstanding Overall Mobile Technology—The CTO’s Choice 2016 awards for its Pre5G Massive MIMO technology. This is not a sudden success for ZTE. Since June 2014 when ZTE was the first to put forward its Pre5G at the LTE World Summit, Pre5G has become the most important technological concept that is highly recognized by the industry for evolution from post-4G to 5G. With years of effort, ZTE has worked with operators worldwide to deploy commercial Pre5G networks.
The Idea of Advanced and Practical Development
The core concept of Pre5G is to use in advance certain key 5G technologies in 4G networks and make them compatible with existing 4G commercial terminals, so that users can enjoy 5G-like experience before the formal 5G commercialization. Taking into account the LTE evolution, Pre5G also incorporates LTE-A Pro related technologies defined by 3GPP. Therefore, Pre5G is a technical solution portfolio that connects 4G and 5G.
Based on deep understanding of the challenges operators face in their network upgrade concerning spectrum and site resources, terminal compatibility, and return on investment, ZTE has launched the practical Pre5G concept that can manage trade-offs among time to market, cost-efficiency, and network performance and help operators maintain a healthy development.
● Time to market: Pre5G attaches importance to seizing market opportunities. It uses in advance some 5G technologies instead of waiting for mature 5G standards and commercialization. Pre5G also provides compatibility with existing 4G terminals, and delivers ahead of schedule future-oriented new services such as virtual reality, HD videos, and IoT, helping operators seize the high-end market.
● Cost efficiency: Most of the Pre5G technologies evolve smoothly based on a 4G network without great changes to the network. Moreover, as Pre5G is deployed in high-traffic areas and for high-rate services and high-end user groups, it can obtain high returns on a relatively small investment.
● Network performance: Pre5G increases spectral efficiency by six to eight folds, which is close to the ultimate spectral efficiency limit of 5G. This helps operators address the issue of limited spectrum resources. Pre5G also provides low latency and massive access capabilities to support new services as well as cloud-based solutions to build more flexible, open and synergy networks.
Above all, the early commercial use of certain key 5G techniques including Pre5G Massive MIMO enables ZTE to obtain rich commercial experience and measured data from actual network scenarios. This provides valuable real data and new channel models for 3GPP and ITU, and gives the references for future 5G commercial deployment. Pre5G benefits 4G networks and users as well as future 5G networks, serving as the bridge from 4G to 5G.
A Complete Evolution in Four Areas
Pre5G shows its value in the four areas: Giga+ MBB, superior experience, Massive IoT, and cloudization:
● Giga+ MBB: Giga+ MBB focuses on addressing the capacity challenge of hotspot cells and high-rate services. Through the combination of Massive MIMO, Massive CA/LAA, 256QAM, and Pre5G UDN, the cell peak rate can increase to above 1 Gbps.
● Superior experience: User experience has always been the greatest concern of operators. ZTE’s innovative eVideo and eVoLTE based solutions can bring high-definition mobile video and high-fidelity voice experience to users.
● Massive IoT: IoT brings new market opportunities while changing people’s lives. Typical IoT applications include internet of vehicles, smart home, and smart city. Focusing on NB-IoT and eMTC applications, Pre5G can provide end-to-end IoT solutions ranging from chips, module terminals, to networks and application platforms.
● Cloudization: Cloudization makes networks and platforms more elastic, open, and synergic. It supports smooth evolution to 5G. Based on virtualization, the Pre5G cloudization solution can reconstruct network infrastructure and functions. Moreover, cloudization is also applied to the radio access side. ZTE’s Cloud RAN solution uses virtual BBUs and 5G-oriented network architecture, and also introduces mobile edge computing (MEC).
Leading the Pre5G Commercialization to Win Worldwide Recognition
R&D is the foundation of a successful product commercialization. ZTE has invested a lot in R&D of Pre5G products and solutions, among which Massive MIMO is a hit product. Following mass commercial use of its industry-first TDD Massive MIMO, ZTE overcame technical difficulties related to FDD Massive MIMO in less than one year by using self-developed high-performance vector processing chips as well as innovative channel measurement and estimation algorithms. At the end of 2016, ZTE launched FDD Massive MIMO and completed the joint field tests together with China Unicom and China Telecom. The new-generation TDD Massive MIMO made its debut with more carriers, more streams, and newer style.
As the first vendor to put forward the Pre5G concept, ZTE has led the commercial use of Pre5G. Owing to the advanced and practical development idea as well as outstanding performance, ZTE has been highly recognized by global middle- and high-end operators for its Pre5G. As of 2016, global mainstream operators had deployed over 40 Pre5G networks in 30 countries around the world, such as SoftBank, Telefonica, Hutchison, Vimpelcom, Telenor, Singtel, China Mobile, China Unicom, and China Telecom. Japan’s SoftBank became the world’s first to deploy commercial Pre5G Massive MIMO network; Telefonica and Vimpelcom deployed virtual cloud-based networks respectively in seven Latin American countries and five countries; Belgian operator Telenet used multi-carrier aggregation to achieve a download speed of 1.3 Gbps in an outfield Pre5G test; and China Mobile ran a commercial NB-IoT trial in Wuzhen, a city of China’s Zhejiang province, for smart parking and integrated water control systems.