A Call for Quick 5G SA Implementation
2020 marks the beginning of commercial use of 5G SA around the world. It is a key year in which the deep integration of 5G with various industries will reap substantial results. This is based on three observations. First, with the freeze of 3GPP Release 16 specifications, the "5G+industry" orientation is further reinforced, which will accelerate the 5G construction progress, expand 5G application scenarios, and promote the transformation and upgrade of traditional industries. Second, various industries have an urgent need for intelligent digital transformation with 5G network. Third, operators are beginning to cultivate many new growth points along with 5G SA commercialization this year. These all underline the need for a high-quality, powerful 5G SA core network.
The World's Largest 5G SA Core Network
The fragmented vertical industry market with differentiated service requirements makes the 5G market uncertain, which needs to be encountered with the certainty in 5G. Subsequently, China Mobile employs ZTE's Common Core+ solution to build a precise 5G network to make full use of its comprehensive network resources, accurately differentiate between customers' features, accurately allocate network resources to different users, and give full play to every bit in the pipeline. In China Mobile's 2020 centralized procurement of new 5G SA core network equipment, ZTE has won the bid of 12 provinces in six regions for the public-oriented network, and secured the bid for 35% shares in 31 provinces for the industry-oriented network. Once completed, the project will become the world's largest 5G SA network. It is another breakthrough for ZTE in China Mobile's market after it won the bids for China Mobile's NFV phase-1 project and UDM project.
ZTE Showing Powerful Technical Strength During Tests
From 2015 to 2020, ZTE has been continuously improving its solutions, arranging exchanges, and testing project items. Before the results for the centralized procurement were announced, China Mobile had conducted meticulous solution validation and strict technical verification. ZTE demonstrated outstanding performance with its inherent advantages such as rapid network construction, localized services, long-term support, but more importantly, with its strong E2E capabilities. For large-scale commercial 5G deployment to succeed in 2020, China Mobile started large-scale 5G core network tests in September 2019, covering voice (EPS fallback, VoNR), charging, roaming, interoperation, performance, slicing, security and interoperability. The number of test cases for a single vendor reached 3,200 and the results were directly used for reference in centralized procurement. ZTE has always been in the first echelon during the tests of China Mobile. For example, in August 2019, ZTE was the first to successfully complete large-capacity 5G core network data forwarding and equipment performance verification in the lab of China Mobile Research Institute. ZTE's 5G core network system, based on the standard traffic model of China Mobile's 5G core network, was successfully tested and accepted with 2 million users, 4 million sessions and 200 Gbps traffic. In the second half of 2019, during the 5G O&M test of China Mobile, ZTE ranked No. 1 in test progress and pass ratio.
In August 2020, several months after winning the bid, ZTE completed the to customer (To C) first-office application (FOA) test of China Mobile's SA 5GC project, fully verifying basic functions, network performance and network security of the 5GC network, which lays the foundation for the large-scale commercial use of the 5GC network. ZTE was the first vendor to obtain the network access license of all NFs in the To C network.
Joint Promotion of 5G Innovations
China Mobile takes the lead in the world in 5G SA commercialization progress and scale, and it adopts regional construction and multi-layer distributed UPF deployment. With ZTE's Common Core+ solution, China Mobile can enable network reconstruction based on SDN/NFV, agile network functions based on SBA and cloud-native architecture, vertical industry development based on E2E network slicing technology, and network operation and maintenance automation through the AIC tool to flexibly deal with various network construction problems and challenges.
To realize fast 5G SA deployment, China Mobile adopts ZTE's patented interworking function (IWF) provisioning-free solution. In the early stage of 5G deployment, 4G user data is not cut over to 5G, and there is no need for 4G network reconstruction. Users can still enjoy 5G high-bandwidth services without changing their cards or numbers. In China Mobile's bidding for UDM/UDR/IWF equipment, ZTE won a market share of nearly 50%.
With respect to service innovation, China Mobile has been working closely with ZTE to guide and promote the establishment of international 5G messaging standards, and takes the lead in the formulation of Chinese industry standards. On June 30, 2020, China Mobile joined hands with ZTE to complete the 5G messaging service cutover of its southeastern region (Zhejiang Province), making the southeastern region the first commercial office for 5G messages in China. This also marks the official commercial use of 5G messages in China. Since February 2020, ZTE, together with Zhejiang Branch of China Mobile, has reached several milestones. With respect to the construction of 5G messaging platform, ZTE took the lead in four aspects: the first to make through the 5G first call, the first to send the 5G message, the first to migrate message services from the existing network, and the first to put 5G messages into commercial use. With respect to service operation, it promoted the establishment of the 5G messaging alliance and held the 5G messaging application developer competition, thus creating a new 5G messaging ecosystem with industry partners.
With the acceleration of the new infrastructure construction including 5G and industrial internet, ZTE has been actively involved in the deployments of operators' 5G infrastructure, and constantly scaled up its 5G production capacity. Meanwhile, it has strengthened cooperation with top industry players to promote digital transformation of energy, communication, finance, government affairs and other key industries. The construction and commercial use of 5G SA networks will spell the beginning of a new round of 5G innovations. In 2020 and beyond, it is expected that 5G will expand into many vertical fields to deliver on its promise.