China officially launched its commercial use of 5G in 2019. As the operator with the world's largest network scale and largest customer base, China Mobile has deployed over 50,000 5G commercial base stations in 31 provinces and enabled 5G commercial services in 50 cities, greatly contributing to the global end-to-end 5G industry. However, China's vast territory, complicated topography and dense population, when combined with multiple co-existing networks of China Mobile, pose great difficulties for 5G network construction.
ZTE, a strategic partner of China Mobile and a major contractor for its 5G network, has proposed to the operator an end-to-end intelligent delivery solution covering a life cycle's four key phases (planning, construction, maintenance, and optimization). This reduces network delivery difficulties, enhances delivery efficiency, and enables simplified network deployment and ultimate user experience for China Mobile.
China Mobile faces the problem of achieving a higher input-output ratio under the complicated 5G networking situations. To solve this, ZTE puts forward a 4G/5G coordinated network planning solution that is based on a capacity expansion planning platform with the help of the 4G measurement report (MR) massive data analysis and AI prediction. It identifies valuable areas in terms of such dimensions as coverage and capacity, and matches site locations with suitable products. The platform has been used by China Mobile in eight provinces including Guangdong and Fujian to output the planning reports and complete intelligent preliminary 5G planning involving various valuable scenarios like central urban areas, important scenic spots, and commercial premises. These high-value scenarios quickly won reputation for China Mobile in the early stage of 5G network construction, laying a solid foundation for future service and user development. With this solution, the planning work used to be done by two engineers in one month can now be completed by one engineer in a week, increasing the efficiency by 80%.
Highly-Efficient, Simplified Deployment
Due to the constant upgrades in wireless networks and rapid urbanization in China, the space for antenna installation is getting more and more constrained in cities. China Mobile is also confronted with difficulties in acquiring new sites and balancing costs in construction. To tackle this, ZTE proposes the UniSite solution, which supports 2G/3G/4G/5G integration and covers all deployment scenarios including macro-site, indoor and hot/blind spot scenarios to maximize the site efficiency. Meanwhile, ZTE releases the UniDeploy simplified deployment solution. It facilitates highly-efficient site deployment for all scenarios with three modes of site commissioning including PnP, data burning, and simplified configuration.
In the PnP mode, with the auto-discovery function, a site can be commissioned automatically through auto-establishment of a transportation link, auto-acquisition of configuration files and software packages right after the site equipment is installed and powered up. This mode has been applied to several provincial branches of China Mobile with the site commissioning efficiency increased by 50%. Besides, ZTE uses the wireless network guardian (WNG) solution to perform single site verification and guarantee "a quality site after commissioning". WNG is based on 5G terminal + cloud architecture, which automates the whole process from data collection to customized report output, i.e. the single site verification test can simply be completed by an engineer with a terminal. WNG is widely used in the provincial projects of China Mobile for single site verification test, which lowers the manpower costs by 60% and increases the efficiency by 55%.
As the largest network operator in the world, China Mobile runs multiple networks and the co-existence of different networks will continue for a long time, which makes the maintenance a very tough task. ZTE introduces the intelligent alarm filtering and root cause analysis (RCS) solution to perform correlation analysis and trouble locating from both the vertical direction (Cell-AAU-DU-CU/Cell-RRU-BBU) and the horizontal direction (inter-site/inter-CU/inter-DC). This solution screens and removes the invalid alarms to get to the root cause of an issue based on AI training of millions of historical alarms combined with algorithms optimized by Pearson's correlation coefficient, frequent itemset, and confidence level. In the pilot tests in provinces like Guangdong, Shandong, and Fujian, the original 17 alarms are reduced to six by using AI algorithms, which allows the maintenance team to focus on the root cause alarms and fast locate and solve the incidents, and hence to protect the value of network resources with lower costs and higher efficiency.
5G macro base stations mainly adopt the Massive MIMO antennas, which have more software-configurable parameters than the traditional ones but increase the difficulties in parameter optimization. China Mobile is thus required to invest more resources on 4G/5G coordinated optimization for an enhanced user experience. ZTE has developed the big data and AI-based automatic antenna pattern control (AAPC) tool to realize the automation of data collection, analysis and parameter optimization. Its application in the pilot tests in China shows that for a single beam the RSRP can be increased by 5 dB and the SINR by 2-3 dB on average, and for multiple beams the RSRP can be increased by 3-4 dB and the SINR by 1.5-2 dB. The construction costs can also be greatly reduced. Meanwhile, ZTE has deployed the SON function in the 5G networks in several provinces to realize automatic optimization of 4G/5G neighbouring cells, X2/Xn as well as PCI, which effectively lowers the parameter optimization frequency.
China Mobile is committed to building the bench-marking 5G scenarios in the first year of 5G construction. In its branding areas such as scenic spots and important stores, the 5G network can reach more than 1.2 Gbps in the downlink and 100 Mbps in the uplink. In the central urban areas in cities like Nanjing and Guangzhou, the downlink speed can reach over 800 Mbps and the uplink 80 Mbps, and the downlink speed can reach over 550 Mbps in less dense urban areas with continuous coverage.
To assist China Mobile in implementing its 5G network and "5G+" plan, ZTE is fully prepared in terms of intelligent solutions and human resource cultivation. It is believed that a new 5G ecology of resource sharing and mutually-beneficial and integrated development will be achieved through sincere cooperation between both sides.