With 5G deployment fast becoming a reality in many parts of the world, mobile operators are scrambling to get their hands on the latest products and solutions that will catapult their businesses to greater heights. Advancing right alongside this 21st century digital phenomenon is ZTE, who is not only leading the way towards a 100% software-based, end-to-end mobile network infrastructure solutions, but also smashing through traditional telco methods and welcoming a new generation of continued innovation and market proliferation.
Telecom Review Asia Pacific sat down with Mr Bai Yang, Vice President of ZTE Corporation, Leader of Global Marketing & Solution Department in Pan-Asia Pacific Region to discuss his vision for a 5G future.
What is unique about ZTE's approach to 5G deployment?
ZTE is one of only two equipment manufacturers in the world that can provide 5G end-to-end solutions and commercial products. In the Asia Pacific region, ZTE has assisted operators in China to achieve 5G scale commercial use and conducted 5G network test and new business exploration with mainstream operators in Malaysia, Myanmar, Indonesia, Thailand and many other countries.
Through these practices, ZTE has accumulated rich experience and put forward a mature 5G rapid network construction scheme. The first is to "simplify" the technical solution, including the whole scene minimalist site solution based on multi-mode multi-frequency multi-architecture and full mode maximum capacity BBU platform, the Common Core scheme which supports 2G, 3G, 4G, 5G and the fixed network access at the same time, and the Flexhaul bearing network which can effectively reduce power consumption and configuration complexity; the second is to "add intelligence" to the network: add AI and MEC functions; the third is to "separate" the network, virtualize a physical network into multiple virtual networks, build a core open platform, shorten business online time and reduce operation and maintenance costs; the last is to multiply 5G features and massive vertical industries, leading to the matrix revolution of 5G business model.
Seeing that the region is made up of socio-economically diverse countries, what types of solutions have been introduced to cater to these specifications?
Firstly, 5G mainstream band 3.5 GHz has been used in many countries in the Asia Pacific region. For the countries where 3.5 GHz cannot be obtained, ZTE has launched a series of customized 5G AAU products, which can meet the network construction needs of different operators in 700 MHz, 2.6 GHz and other frequency bands.
Secondly, the Asia Pacific region is densely populated and the demand for network capacity is growing explosively. ZTE's Massive MIMO products have been deployed for many years, and have been proved to provide 6-8 times the throughput of 4G network cell. This brings users the ultimate experience.
Additionally, some operators also have a large demand for 4G expansion. ZTE's wireless and core network products can support 2G, 3G, 4G, 5G access at the same time, and support NSA/SA dual-mode. The dynamic spectrum sharing scheme can support the flexible allocation of spectrum in 4G and 5G networks, realize the smooth evolution of 4G networks to 5G, and protect the investment of operators.
In order to save 5G investment, operators try to share infrastructure such as co-built transmission and site, or further seek M&A to reduce market competition. ZTE's RAN sharing scheme has been commercially validated by China Telecom and China Unicom, and it is a practical solution that can significantly reduce Capex and Opex in the process of network infrastructure sharing and network consolidation.
Lastly, many traditional operators are transforming to full-service operators to improve profitability. ZTE's 5G core and 5G optical access product Titan can be compatible with wireless broadband and fixed broadband access at the same time, support seamless switching of user equipment at the network level, and realize fixed mobile integration.
What kinds of challenges can you foresee when it comes to driving digital transformation in Asia Pacific?
The digital transformation of operators is not only to provide digital communication services, but also to build and integrate into a new digital ecosystem and become an enabler of the future digital economic society. In the process of transformation, operators not only need to overcome the shortcomings of the traditional business model, but also need to meet new challenges, such as the repositioning of the ecosystem, operational organization change, talent transformation and so on.
In order to better serve the digital transformation of customers, operators must first solve the problem of insufficient network agility, resource scheduling needs to be more flexible, and the network is easier to expand, so as to support diversified and personalized business innovation. ZTE can provide SDN/NFV network products based on mainstream technology, with communication level reliability and high performance, to help operators with agile network transformation.
Operators in the Asia Pacific region are in different stages of digital transformation. Some operators have not completed the digital transformation of their own operation, so they have some challenges to deal with the digital transformation of the society. ZTE has rich experience in its own digital transformation. It can provide large-scale operators with national data center, ICT PaaS, distributed database and other basic software, which can help operators cope with their own digital transformation.
In the process of business development, operators need to constantly accumulate experience and improve the ability to integrate the ecological chain, so as to provide customers with the best technology, the lowest cost and the best delivery solutions. ZTE, as a long-term strategic partner of operators, is willing to work closely with Asia Pacific operators to provide the best solution for customer' digital transformation based on its own accumulation of video capabilities, AI capabilities, basic software and equipment development.
How closely do you work with customers in order to bring 5G to the respective markets?
5G has been integrated into the key capabilities in the industrial field at the beginning of its definition. On the basis of building ubiquitous communication, it is built with AI enhancement, evolutionary perception and control intelligence to comprehensively improve the collection, transmission, processing and application level of information, laying a solid foundation for the continuous optimization cycle of operation innovation, product service innovation and mode innovation of enterprises and society.
In the age of 5G, customers' demands are characterized by individuation, customization and polymorphism. Operators and equipment manufacturers are trying to explore the industry rules and demand characteristics. It is expected that in the future, operators will build an open and powerful middle platform, integrate resources, and provide relevant capabilities to ecological partners and markets.
We have many 5G partners in the Pan-Asia Pacific Region, such as Smartfren, Telkom and Telkomsel in Indonesia, U Mobile, Webe and Digi in Malaysia, Ooredoo and Mytel in Myanmar, Kivystar in Ukraine, True and AIS in Thailand, Bharti Airtel and VIL in India, TP in Pakistan, Megafon in Russia and A1 in Belarus. Our role as we see it is to verify new technologies and from that develop new business through strong partnerships.
ZTE has formed in-depth collaborations with more than 70 operators around the world. With its extensive experiences in the field of Massive MIMO and continuous innovation in 5G algorithms, ZTE has been improving 5G commercial network performance and building quality networks for users to enjoy the uninterrupted high-speed and low-latency internet experience.
As a proactive and leading contributor to new 5G applications, ZTE has been collaborating with global operators to optimize the 5G vertical industry with its end-to-end 5G SA solutions. Moving forward, ZTE will continue leveraging its end-to-end NSA & SA dual-mode products and leading Massive MIMO technology to help operators build the best networks with ultimate user experience and services.