ZTE's 3-Pronged IoT Strategy: Chipset, Network and Cloud

Release Date:2018-02-05  Author:By Yang Longzhi  Click:

During the past decade, people have been thinking about how to use technology to improve quality of life. Recently, Sidewalk Labs announced that it will develop Quayside in Toronto, Canada into the city of the future using cutting-edge digital technologies. In China, ZTE also actively participates in similar exploratory projects. 
 
Current Status of IoT

Although the concept of the internet of things (IoT) was put forward decades ago, there have been no large-scale IoT deployments due to fragmentation of standards and a lack of strong use cases. However, with the technological developments which change the way we work and live, international standard bodies, such as ITU and 3GPP, are paying increasing attention to developing a globally unified IoT communication standard. Narrowband IoT (NB-IoT) is a low power wide area network (LPWAN) radio technology that enables a wide range of devices and services to be connected using cellular telecommunication bands. Standardization of NB-IoT began in 2015 and was completed in 2016. 2017 saw pre-commercial trials of NB-IoT in key areas worldwide. Therefore, NB-IoT is the standard that has been popularized most quickly in recent decades. The LTE-based eMTC technology also attracts great attention, especially in North America, due to its advantages in low power consumption, full-duplex operation, and VoLTE support. 
Moreover, facing the technically demanding environments and complicated application scenarios in the future, the global telecommunication industry is committed to developing the 5G standard to enable ultra-reliable low latency communications (uRLLC) that requires very low latency and very high reliability, massive machine type communications (mMTC) that requires high connection density, and enhanced mobile broadband (eMBB) that requires large bandwidths to implement IoT services and traditional telecommunication services. It is obvious that NB-IoT/eMTC-based low-speed IoT and 5G-based high-speed IoT are the necessary steps to enable the internet of everything. The 5G mMTC technology is very likely to evolve from the current NB-IoT/eMTC technology. 

ZTE’s Strategy

As a global telecommunication equipment provider, ZTE is committed to providing its customers with end-to-end IoT solutions covering chips, radio networks, cloud platforms, and related technologies and services. ZTE has a three-pronged IoT strategy of chipset, network and cloud (Fig. 1). For the typical four-tier architecture of IoT, ZTE has heavily invested in the research on the three layers (sensor, network and platform) below the application layer. 

6-1
With respect to chipsets, in September 27 2017, ZTE launched RoseFinch7100, which is the first self-developed NB-IoT chip in China. RoseFinch7100 features the chip-level security with the trusted execution environment (TEE). For the future, ZTE has carried out research on 5G terminal chips (Wisefone series) to meet ultra-high rate and ultra-low latency requirements in the complicated IoT application scenarios. ZTE has also launched two NB-IoT modules (ZM8300 and ZM8301) to ensure the development of the LPWA IoT industry, and developed the new-generation IoT OS&SDK to reduce the difficulty in application development.   
With respect to networks, ZTE is capable of providing operators with the most economical and complete IoT network deployment solutions. For NB-IoT and eMTC, ZTE can rapidly implement low-speed IoT services based on operators’ existing LTE networks through software upgrades, saving both time and investment cost. In addition, ZTE has made adequate preparations for 5G IoT. It can use short TTI and CU/DU separation to reduce end-to-end latency in networks, the innovative MUSA technology to support a huge number of connections, and SDMA to drastically increase the transmission capacity.  Meanwhile, with years of R&D in virtualized core networks, ZTE can support various services ranging from NB-IoT/eMTC to 5G IoT with an NFV-based core network, which ensures a smooth generational shift of IoT technology.     
Cloud refers to the cloudified platform. Based on the research on cloudified platforms during the past few years, ZTE has started the R&D on the new generation IoT platform in early 2017. The new-generation platform comprises of device management platform (DMP), connectivity management platform (CMP), and operation and maintenance portal (OMP) with application enablement platform (AEP) sitting at the core of it. With the PaaS virtualized architecture, the new-generation IoT platform allows for the implementation of various capabilities as microservices. The microservices, which are scalable, can be accessed by service applications and developers via APIs. Thus, a universal platform can be applied to various professional fields. Meanwhile, by utilizing the CMP platform, ZTE can also fully optimize the interconnection with the core network and provide carrier-class connectivity for IoT terminals. 
ZTE has been actively promoting the development of IoT. Since 2008 when ZTE provided the M2M platform for China Mobile, ZTE has already accumulated 10 years of experience in the IoT field. Good news came frequently in the past two years. In 2016, ZTE became the first in the industry to demonstrate the verification based on NB-IoT in China Mobile’s 5G innovation laboratory. In May 2017, ZTE worked with MTN in South Africa to complete the NB-IoT end-to-end function verification. In October 2017, ZTE in partnership with Telenet offered a live demo of its smart parking service. For the future 5G IoT applications, ZTE has completed key indicator tests in eMBB, mMTC, and uRLLC scenarios, highlighting its powerful technical strength. 

Summary


It is no doubt that the IoT will become a critical technology and have a great impact on our daily lives. In the next five years, the IoT market will have tens of billions of connections and generate trillions of dollars in revenue. IoT is poised to transform almost every major market sector. With the arrival of the IoT era, ZTE will follow the “chipset, network, and cloud” strategy to build a brilliant future.

[Keywords] IoT, Chipset, Network and Cloud, 3-Pronged IoT strategy, 5G IoT

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