Wind Tre Builds the Best Mobile Network in Italy

Release Date:2019-11-18  Author:By Li Hao, Zheng Chen  Click:

Wind Tre, an Italian mobile operator, has recently achieved excellent performance in the network quality evaluation organized by P3, a well-known third-party test organization in Europe. In the consolidated area, both voice and data got the best score. Wind Tre has grown into the largest and best-quality network operator in the Italian mobile market. 

But back to 2016, before the merger, Wind and Three ranked third and fourth respectively in the overall ranking of the Italian mobile market. They lagged behind competitors whether in terms of user base, revenue, or profit margin. Moreover, as their networks had insufficient coverage, insufficient capacity and aging equipment, and could not support the evolution to 4G Pro and even 5G, they were in a unfavorable competitive position. They did not afford large-scale network modernization respectively relying on their own revenues, so network integration was the best way to solve the issue. 

In December 2016, Wind Tre joined hands with ZTE to build a national wireless integration and upgrade project, achieving the goal of No. 1 operator in Italy. 

Converging Networks for Simplicity

Before the network consolidation, the two operators were serviced by three main equipment vendors. There were hundreds of site models, most of which were old single-band single-mode devices that were too poorly integrated to support smooth 4G evolution. Wind Tre adopted ZTE's Uni-RAN solution for 2G/3G/4G network integration. The Uni-RAN solution used multi-band multi-mode devices that could support spectrum refarming by software upgrade, flexible and fast adjustment of network spectrum system, and unified network O&M to achieve resource sharing and lower TCO for Wind Tre. Simplified network upgrade and smooth evolution extended the lifecycle of devices and improved network operation efficiency. All these helped Wind Tre maintain advantages in the fierce market competition. 

The Uni-RAN solution uses ZXSDR B8200, a baseband processing unit based on ZTE's unique SDR platform. ZXSDR B8200 supports large-capacity configuration of GSM, UMTS, FDD-LTE and NB-IoT (abbreviated as GULN), helping Wind Tre greatly reduce its Capex and Opex and adapt to its strategy of long-term evolution at low costs. 

The solution also uses ZTE's innovative RF units to help Wind Tre save antenna space and reduce network construction costs.

Ultra-wideband RF unit that saves 50% of RRUs: R8892N is an RRU that integrates Band8 and Band20. One unit supports two frequency bands, thus saving 50% of RRUs and greatly reducing TCO for Wind Tre. 
Industry's smallest 4T4R RRU: R8854 is a 4T4R RRU that supports 4×4 MIMO and can provide 90% of network capacity gain at the most. With only 12 L in volume and 15 kg in weight, R8854 is the smallest 4T4R RRU in the industry, which can significantly reduce rental fees. 
Active antenna system: A8292A is an active antenna system that integrates the RF unit and the antenna. One module provides a maximum of 12 ports and supports five frequency bands and three systems. A8292A can fully meet the networking needs of Wind Tre, saving up to 30% of the antenna space.

Working with ZTE to Build Quality Networks

Wind Tre expressed their expectation for the integrated network at the early stage of consolidation: the network needs to meet the 4G capacity growth in the next five years, protect investment, and have the ability to evolve to 5G. The Pre5G solution proposed by ZTE can not only provide 5G-like user experience in the 4G era, but also support smooth upgrade to 5G network when 5G arrives, helping Wind Tre take the lead in the 5G era. 

Experiencing the 1 Gbps+ Rate in Advance

Ultra-wideband experience has always been the most important user demands. Through the combination of several key technologies, Pre5G has increased the download rate to over 1 Gbps so that users can experience the 5G speed in advance. The commercial network deployed by Wind Tre and ZTE in Italy fully supports 4×4 MIMO, 256QAM and 4CC CA, achieving a data rate of over 1 Gbps.

Bringing Great Download Gains

As an indispensable technology in the 5G era, MEC can effectively meet the challenges of large traffic, large transmission bandwidth and multi-service type brought by 5G. Wind Tre chose ZTE to deploy the MEC platform in its commercial network in 2018. They tested the network acceleration function set of MEC, aiming at improving existing 4G network performance as well as the rate and delay of hot services. The related acceleration technology can also be applicable to future 5G networks. The MEC platform can greatly improve the delay and rate performance of specific services and significantly improve the performance degradation caused by poor servers.

In the field test performed by Wind Tre, the average download rate was increased by more than 40%, the ratio of samples below the rate of 20 Mbps was decreased from 19.91% to 7.8%, and the ratio of samples above the rate of 80 Mbps was increased from 7.47% to 16.62%. After the TCPO function was enabled, the average delay of hotspot websites was reduced by about 20%. Wind Tre spoke highly of the test results. 

Introducing NB-IoT to Improve Revenue

NB-IoT has obvious advantages in cost and coverage over other IoT technologies, and is considered as the mainstream IoT technology in recent years. According to the Ovum report, the average number of IoT connections per user is 2 to 6 by 2020, and each IoT connection is expected to bring an increase of  5 euros per year to operators. The Pre5G solution adopted by Wind Tre can be upgraded smoothly to support NB-IoT, which greatly reduces construction costs and deployment time. In 2018, Wind Tre decided to deploy a commercial NB-IoT network. In just a few months, ZTE assisted 

Wind Tre in launching NB-IoT services at more than 8,000 sites across the network. Within two years, Wind Tre and ZTE quickly consolidated the two networks. An Italian media reported that after the network consolidation, 4G rate was increased by 250% and the coverage was also significantly improved, especially the indoor coverage. 

Wind Tre overtook competitors in just three years, and has now grown into a leading mobile operator in Italy. ZTE's leading technical strength has been highly praised by Wind Tre. "Our relationship with ZTE is simply fantastic," said Wind Tre CEO Jeffrey Hedberg. Benoit Hanssen, chief technology officer of Wind Tre, and Carlo Melis, director of the project, also jointly sent a letter of praise expressing their recognition of ZTE.


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