Jointly Embracing a Better Connected Future with 5G

Release Date:2018-02-02  Author:Reporter: Liu Xinyang  Click:

5G will be a revolutionary era in the history of telecommunications, where an internet of everything (IoE) involving man-to-man, man-to-machine, and machine-to-machine connections will be established. 5G will fully get into the society and change the life of everyone. “The best way to predict future is to create it. ZTE has been committed to creating a brighter 5G future with industrial partners through innovation, openness, cooperation and win-win,” says Zhang Jianguo, Senior Vice President of ZTE, speaking to ZTE Technologies about the company’s business philosophy. He also shares his views on 5G standardization and building the 5G ecosystem.       

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As the MWC 2018 draws near, what will ZTE showcase in the wireless sector of ZTE booth?
Zhang Jianguo: Focusing on the theme—Leading 5G Innovations, ZTE will highlight its three leadership advantages at the MWC 2018: commercialization leadership, performance leadership, and cost leadership. 
The highlights of ZTE booth can be summarized as “One Live Broadcast”, “Two Interactions”, and “Three Innovative Products”. “One Live Broadcast” refers to a live broadcast of the world’s first inter-vendor IoDT test based on the latest 3GPP 5G NR standards. “Two Interactions” are the world’s largest 5G field test and interaction and the world’s first real-time orchestrated 5G end-to-end network slicing demonstration and interaction. “Three Innovative Products” include 4G/5G dual-mode RRUs supporting convergent 4G and 5G networks, high and low-frequency commercial base stations based on the latest 3GPP 5G NR standards, and unified CN products based on the cloud platform supporting fully convergent 2G, 3G, 4G and 5G networks.

The competition in the 5G arena is getting increasingly fierce. What’s the core  competitiveness of ZTE?

Zhang Jianguo: I think the core competitiveness is our unique innovation gene and determination for future development. With technology accumulation and sustained high investment in the 3G and 4G eras, we have accurately identified at the early stage key 5G technologies represented by Massive MIMO. These technologies can be commercially available on 4G networks in advance to significantly improve the performance of existing networks and help operators remove their pain points. Today Massive MIMO has been commercially deployed on a large scale in the global market including China, Japan, Europe and Asia Pacific. Also, we have made further innovations. We took the lead in the industry to release FDD Massive MIMO, and cooperated with Telenet Belgium to complete the first FDD Massive MIMO field test in Europe, setting a record for LTE single-cell throughput at a bandwidth of 20 Mbps. MUSA is another key 5G technology proposed by ZTE. By eliminating scheduling operations and selecting resources randomly, MUSA achieves an overload rate of up to 600 percent. This solves the mass commercial application problem of future massive IoT connections.  
So we can say innovation is our only choice to tackle all the problems. In the future, we will still adhere to innovation in three aspects. First, develop more advanced NR technologies to support leaping enhancements in 5G technical indicators; second, provide a more flexible architecture to support future new functionalities and services while being adaptive to the existing transmission, site resources, 4G to 5G evolution and their convergence; third, introduce end-to-end network slicing based on virtual infrastructure to enable real-time, flexible, and on-demand allocation of network resources.
We have established a 5G R&D team of over 4,500 specialists and have invested 3 billion RMB in 5G R&D each year, accounting for 15% of our total R&D staff and 25% of our total investment in R&D respectively. This is to ensure our leading position in time-to-market (TTM) and performance of 5G products and maintain our cost advantage.

What has ZTE accomplished towards the commercial deployment of 5G?
Zhang Jianguo: ZTE made continued effort in commercializing 5G in 2017. We have established partnerships with more than 20 high-end operators worldwide and has completed over 10 pre-commercial 5G tests and trials.
Together with Wind Tre, Italy’s largest mobile operator, and Open Fiber, Italy’s wired operator, ZTE won the bid for building the first pre-commercial 5G network in Europe. This indicates that ZTE has been recognized by European mainstream operators. ZTE also signed a cooperation agreement with Orange France on testing standalone architecture of a 5G multi-site trial network located in Europe. Jointly with Telefonica, ZTE completed phase-1 5G transport test including CU/DU split architecture, NG core, and 5G Flexhaul solution. Both partners will continue to perform phase-2 transport test and further verification for 5G end-to-end solutions. In November 2017, Japan’s SoftBank started 5G field tests with ZTE immediately after obtaining the license for a 5G test at the 4.5 GHz band. In China’s Guangzhou University Town, ZTE and China Mobile conducted the 5G field test for continuous coverage involving multiple base stations, which almost met the requirements of commercial 5G networks. Moreover, ZTE ran 5G trials in Shenzhen and Suzhou in cooperation with China Unicom and China Telecom respectively.
By the end of 2017, ZTE had established partnerships on 5G with global top operators such as China Mobile, Japan’s SoftBank, Telefonica, Wind Tre, Orange France, T-Mobile, Telenet, VEON, Telekom Malaysia, Korea Telecom, China Unicom, and China Telecom. ZTE focuses on deploying commercial 5G networks in major countries and for mainstream multinational operators, aiming to provide products and services for the world’s first 5G commercial deployments. We have also been promoting and exchanging ideas about 5G with renowned Vodafone, Telstra, and SingTel to extend our partnerships with more partners.

The success of 5G depends on the maturity of the whole industry chain. What does ZTE think of that?
Zhang Jianguo: Industry collaboration is of great importance in driving 5G commercialization. This is also ZTE’s mission. Not long ago, ZTE collaborated with China Mobile to complete the world’s first end-to-end 5G NR IoDT test based on 3GPP R15 standards. In this test, ZTE’s 5G pre-commercial base stations and Qualcomm’s 5G terminal prototypes were used. ZTE also collaborated with Intel to launch the world’s first SDN/NFV-based 5G RAN solution. ZTE’s advanced SDN/NFV virtualization technologies combined with the latest Intel architecture processors will significantly drive the commercial use of 5G.
Furthermore, ZTE actively participated in China’s 5G tests led and planned by the government and successfully completed the phase-1 and phase-2 tests. The results were far beyond KPIs defined by ITU, setting many new records in the industry. ZTE is in a leading position in the industrial development of 5G.

What role does ZTE play in the standardization of 5G?
Zhang Jianguo: ZTE has always been a major participant and contributor in the formulation of 5G standards. We are the first in the industry to promote unified global 5G standards while opposing 5G standards fragmentation. We have submitted more than 3500 proposals on 3GPP 5G NR and gained three editor seats for essential 5G standards including 3GPP RAN2, RAN3 and RAN4. ZTE 5G expert, Ms. Gao Yin, has been elected as Vice Chairman of 3GPP RAN3. With its intensive research and innovation advantages in MUSA, ZTE initiated and played a leading role in NOMA, a key technology focusing on the physical layer aspects of 5G NR, and led the research on the NOMA project as the first speaker. It is commonly agreed in the industry that ZTE lagged behind rivals in 2G, caught up with them in 3G, and stood at par with them in 4G, but by now ZTE as a representative of China Power has gradually taken the lead in 5G. 

More vertical industries will be involved in 5G. How do you see the impact of the industrial ecosystem on commercial 5G deployment?
Zhang Jianguo: In the 5G era, there will be more cross-industry collaborations to drive in-depth 5G integration with vertical industries and to endow great power to 5G. ZTE will no longer be a pure equipment vendor, but still be committed to promoting 5G industrial applications and building the ecosystem. We have joined the Apollo alliance and collaborated with Baidu, China Mobile, and Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunications to verify the key technologies of autonomous driving. We have also become a member of the 5G Automotive Association (5GAA), and have jointly promoted the development of 5G autonomous driving with 40 other members. Moreover, ZTE has built up 5G research centers in cooperation with many universities in China. All these are explorations and efforts we have made in building the entire 5G ecosystem.

[Keywords] 5G, Zhang Jianguo, interview

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