The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way people live and work, and accelerated the pace of digital and intelligent transformation of enterprises. 5G has become the core engine of industrial digital transformation. It is commonly agreed in the industry that standalone (SA) is the target architecture of 5G. With the maturity of industry chain and successful commercial use in leading markets, SA will be deployed on a large scale in 2021 to maximize 5G value and its industry application potential. ZTE is devoted to becoming a road builder of the digital economy. Starting from typical industry scenarios and real pain points, ZTE aims to explore the mechanism of deep integration of 5G and the industry, to create 5G industry application products and solutions with innovation, ingenuity and perseverance, and to empower digital and intelligent transformation for thousands of industries.
The pain points faced by different industries are diverse and differentiated, such as
—Harsh working environment, high risk and heavy workload: Some industries including mines, ports and metallurgy face problems such as harsh working environment, high risk and heavy workload, which makes it difficult for enterprises to recruit workers. Therefore, they urgently need the transformation to less-manned and unmanned operation.
—Low production efficiency and high manpower costs: Some manufacturing enterprises are faced with problems such as low automation, low production efficiency, large fluctuations in the skill level of employees, and high manpower costs. Therefore, the transformation to automation and intelligence is imminent.
—Limited capabilities of traditional telecom technologies: Incumbent telecom technologies fail to meet the industry-specific needs, such as the mobility requirements of AGVs and drones, the millisecond-level delay and nearly 100% reliability requirements of automatic driving and industrial control, the millisecond-level delay and high precision timing requirements of smart power distribution network, and the above 100 Mbps uplink bandwidth requirements of industrial machine vision and train-to-ground communication.
—Lack of facility mobility and inflexible deployment: Industries such as live video streaming and emergency communications face the challenges of facility mobility and flexible deployment. Therefore, services need to be provisioned quickly anytime, anywhere.
—Unable to smoothly evolve existing telecom equipment: The existing private network equipment has entered the later stage of its life cycle, and the industry chain is about to break, facing the difficulties of smooth evolution of PMR, DMR, P25, TETRA, GSM-R and so on.
What kind of 5G network can meet the differentiated and fragmented requirements of different industries, different scenarios, and different applications? The 5G network needs to have the following characteristics:
—On-demand network coverage: Where there is information, there is a network. The network needs to provide the performance required by the business, and it moves with the information.
—Deterministic network performance: Network performance needs to be highly deterministic and highly reliable. Enterprises can schedule, configure, predict, monitor, manage, and evaluate network performance by themselves.
—Intelligence and agility: Computing resources can be flexibly moved, configured and adjusted. Network components are modular and can be called and combined freely.
In response to the problems faced by the industry and the requirements of enterprises for 5G networks, ZTE focuses on four aspects that involve ultimate 5G network, precise cloud network, special solutions, and open cooperation.
Lead by Innovation to Create Ultimate 5G Network
ZTE has never stopped its innovation in developing an ultimate 5G network including the simplest network architecture, the highest spectrum efficiency, the best performance, the lowest energy consumption, and the most intelligent OAM. It has rolled out the UniSite+ solution that supports the simplest 2G/3G/4G/5G site deployment and coexistence, the SuperDSS solution that supports 2G/3G/4G/5G dynamic spectrum sharing, the Massive MIMO and SSB 1+X solution that further improves vertical coverage in complex scenarios by 30%, and the eDAS solution that realizes uplink/downlink multi-stream MIMO transmission to improve indoor 5G experience at low costs through the reuse of the old DAS system and software upgrade. ZTE has also developed the PowerPilot solution that saves about 15% energy consumption by introducing Big Data and AI technologies. Its AI-based AIVO solution improves OAM efficiency at each stage of network planning, construction, and maintenance.
Reshape Capabilities to Build Agile and Precise Cloud Network
To meet the differentiated and fragmented requirements of vertical industries, ZTE has proposed the precise cloud-network integrated solution that decouples key technical features from scenario features, extracts them into components with common capabilities, and forms a building-block component library. Various application scenarios can be supported through a flexible and efficient combination of components. Through the trials of components in the application scenarios, the component library can be iterated and optimized continuously.
Distributed precise cloud features on-demand creation, lightweight, flexible deployment, and fast iteration. At the IaaS layer, the computing power is evenly distributed on the end, edge, and cloud. At the access edge, a NodeEngine solution can be deployed to provide edge computing only by adding a functional board to 5G BBU. At the convergence edge, more powerful computing can be achieved by deploying the cloud-network integrated cabinet embedded with general servers. At the city edge, a standalone network cabinet or cloud cabinet can be deployed to provide more powerful computing. At the PaaS layer, the cloud decouples network architecture horizontally into finer-granularity components and vertically into the technical service layer and the general service layer. The resources are optimized cyclically between the technical service layer and the underlying layer, while the general service layer can iterate with application scenario innovation. Regarding the software, the TECS Cloud Foundation (TCF) is compatible downwards with various IaaSs and provides upwards service-oriented interfaces that shield upper-layer applications from cross-platform details.
The deterministic precise network synergies with the cloud and achieves precise network capabilities customization and deterministic SLA guarantee by accurately distinguishing industry characteristics and business types and accurately allocating network resources. ZTE has encapsulated key network technologies as network atomic capabilities such as large bandwidth, low latency, high reliability, end-to-end slicing, high-precision positioning and local offloading, which can be flexibly and quickly adjusted and combined to deliver customized 5G private services for different scenarios. In terms of end-to-end network performance guarantee, the radio access network, bearer network, and core network coordinate with each other based on the network resource orchestration and SLA strategy. Global resource scheduling can be achieved through slicing, URLLC, TSN, FlexE, and radio resource scheduling algorithms, so as to provide a precise 5G network for industry customers. In terms of full service process guarantee, the most appropriate resources and functions can be allocated and scheduled for 5G applications in vertical industries through precise planning, precise slicing, precise identification, precise scheduling, precise measurement and precise OAM. This provides precise service guarantee and lays a solid foundation for 5G applications in thousands of industries.
Implement Integration to Offer Adaptive Products and Scenario-Based Solutions
ZTE has actively advocated to find demands, carry out R&D, and innovate on the front line. It has worked with enterprise customers to focus on the pain points, mechanisms, and processes of 5G integration with vertical industries, and embed the most appropriate 5G products and solutions into the value chains of vertical industries. ZTE has also insisted by itself on using industry innovation first. For example, it has used 5G+ industrial internet technology in the Nanjing Binjiang manufacturing base to practice manufacturing 5G with 5G. During the COVID-19 pandemic, it has enabled 30,000 R&D personnel to quickly resume their work on the cloud and conduct R&D collaboration on the cloud.
ZTE has carried out widespread application practice in 15 industries including media, industry, power, mining, transportation, ports, medical care, cultural tourism and agriculture, and has developed a large number of industry-specific products, solutions and features. It has customized the 5G ATG solution for the civil aviation industry, explosion-proof base stations and core network for the mining industry, the site-level edge computing platform NodeEngine for campus applications, the 1D3U frame structure to meet industry's ultra-large uplink bandwidth needs, the small-granularity hard slicing functions such as PRB for high security applications, and the high-precision timing functions for differential protection of power distribution networks. ZTE has won 23 awards and 4 first prizes in the third "Blooming Cup" 5G Application Collection Competition sponsored by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology of China.
Open and Cooperate to Build a Symbiotic Ecosystem
ZTE has actively cooperated with industry alliances, integrators, leading enterprises, telecom operators, and upstream and downstream industry partners to share experience and achievements in different technical fields and industries in terms of requirement identification, standard coordination, innovative products, end-to-end solutions, and capability exposure, and to jointly promote the prosperity and development of 5G industry applications. The low-tech threshold enabling platform ZTE has specially developed for industry customers and ecological partners can output an industry component library formed by common core technological capabilities such as big video, big data, IoT, industrial control, and remote office to the partners to accelerate application innovation and ecological creation.
ZTE has developed more than 500 cooperative partners in 15 industries including industrial engineering, transportation and energy. They have jointly explored 86 innovative 5G application scenarios and successfully carried out more than 60 demonstration projects worldwide. Facing the opportunities and challenges of 5G industry applications, ZTE will as always, be down-to-earth, continue to innovate, build agility, and be a road builder of the digital economy to empower industrial digital transformation and upgrade.