True is a full license operator in Thailand with more than 3 million fixed-line users and 28 million mobile users. With a 30% market share and an annual growth rate of 30% in the mobile sector, True is Thailand's second largest mobile operator. To give all users a better communication experience, True started 5G exploration early in 2018 by adhering to the strategy of "one step ahead, all steps ahead", and now becomes the leader in Thailand's 5G deployment. In February 2020, True succeeded in obtaining the 5G license and officially announced its 5G commercial deployment.
Upgrade to 5G IPRAN is Inevitable
Transport network is of primary importance in the 5G era. With the booming of high-definition videos, online shopping, online games, industrial internet and telemedicine services, users have extensive demands for large bandwidth, low latency and massive connections. True's existing network traffic is growing exponentially, and its bandwidth resources have reached the bottleneck. Because True's incumbent IPRAN does not support key 5G features such as SR, EVPN, SDN, slicing and high-precision clock, it cannot meet the precise, differentiated, agile and service-based requirements of a 5G transport network. Moreover, its multi-vendor networking still has the problems of complicated OAM and high operating expense, and the cost for 100G boards of its transport aggregation equipment is also much higher than that of other operators. To address the pain points in the 5G era such as inability to upgrade smoothly, expensive and inefficient engineering service and high OAM costs, True planned to completely upgrade its networks and build a superior 5G IPRAN network.
Customized 5G IPRAN Improves User Experience
To address the opportunities and challenges in the 5G era, True invited public bidding for 5G transport construction, focusing on new 5G technologies, product performance and capacity, and network stability. This bidding attracted the participation of major transport equipment vendors all over the world. In the end, ZTE stood out in the fierce competition with its excellent performance in POC tests, end-to-end product solutions, and good product performance. ZTE has gained full market share of 5G transport network construction in central and western Thailand, with a total of more than 3000 routers, making it one of True's three major transport equipment suppliers.
After in-depth analysis and research, ZTE has developed a customized 5G transport solution that can help True build an ultra-broadband, intelligent, easy-to-maintain and evolvable 5G IPRAN network (Fig. 1). The solution is composed of 5G access equipment ZXCTN 6000, 5G transport flagship product ZXCTN 9000-E and unified management and control platform ZENIC ONE. Using ZTE's self-developed chips, ZXCTN 6000 supports 10GE, 50GE and 100GE interfaces, and ZXCTN 9000-E supports 1T line cards that can smoothly evolve to 4T per single slot. This significantly improves network capacity and provides a high-speed bandwidth experience. ZENIC ONE can implement mirror fault emulation, traffic prediction and network optimization, helping to build an intelligent IP network. The solution supports Class C high-precision clock synchronization and has multiple protection mechanisms against link failure, node fault and signal degradation. It also supports key 5G technologies such as SR, EVPN and Slice that can greatly simplify network architecture, shorten service deployment period and realize precision network operation.
Superior 5G IPRAN Helps True Lead the Market
The superior 5G IPRAN network jointly built by True and ZTE is intelligent, efficient, simple, flexible and easy to maintain. It solves the difficulties faced by True in 5G transport network, raises its 5G transport capacity to a higher level, and meets all network requirements in the 5G era.
—Easy maintainability and high reliability to ensure service performance: The superior 5G IPRAN network provides AI-based network insight that enables simple, flexible, and visual intelligent management and control, improves the accuracy of potential risk identification and network stability, makes service monitoring more accurate and detailed, and greatly improves OAM efficiency. It also provides end-to-end product solutions that allow for smooth network evolution and easy management to better meet differentiated application needs of vertical industries.
—Dual mechanisms to cut TCO by 30%: The superior 5G IPRAN network introduces multiple equipment vendors for competition and thus reduces Capex. Its ZXCTN 9000-E equipment supports all types of line cards, thus greatly reducing network upgrade costs.
—Deep customization to meet personalized business needs: The superior 5G IPRAN network provides a low latency of less than 5 μs and a high-precision clock synchronization of ±5 ns, which can support ultra-low-latency services such as automatic driving, telemedicine and industrial automation, and expand industrial customers. It also supports explosive mobile traffic growth, Thailand Industry 4.0 and smart factories, satisfying the long-term development needs of 5G services and creating the transport cornerstone for diverse 5G application scenarios.
Work Together to Create a Bright Future for 5G
After successful cooperation between the two parties, the deployment of 5G IPRAN is in full swing in Thailand. True spoke highly of ZTE's professional competence, service spirit and outstanding performance in 5G IPRAN network construction. "Among three vendors implementing IP/MPLS Transport Network Swap Project, ZTE project management is the best due to ability to deliver key milestones in time specified by True. In addition, ZTE strong support teams, dedicated resources and close coordination have ensured success to the project," said Mr. Jirachai Kunakorn, True's Chief Network Operations Officer.
ZTE will continue to provide excellent and high-quality end-to-end 5G transport solutions to help True build 5G transport networks with ultra-high bandwidth, ultra-low latency and intelligent OAM. This will lay a solid foundation for booming 5G applications and help True keep leading the 5G development in the future.