Chinese telecom equipment major, ZTE is today at the forefront of global 5G developments. The company has achieved several landmarks over the last few months, which have cemented its position as an innovator in the 5G space.

ZTE’s growing profile as 5G technology leadership is especially evident in the ongoing trial with China Mobile. With 849 million mobile customers, China Mobile Communications Corporation (CMCC) is the world’s largest mobile network. After taking the lead in 4G, China Mobile is trying to establish one of the earliest 5G commercial networks in the world. ZTE is a longstanding partner of China Mobile and is supporting the telco’s 5G journey with its cutting-edge technological solutions.

“China Mobile’s 5G trial is the world’s earliest 3GPP standard compliant test, and it is a testimony to our expertise that we are partnering with them on this prestigious project. Currently, ZTE and CMCC are jointly establishing a 5G field trial in Guangzhou city for Proof of Concept system verification,” says Cui Li, Vice President, ZTE Corporation.

China Mobile plans to launch commercial 5G services by 2020 and has a clear roadmap to meet this goal. The first phase of the trial involves implementing POC system verification in the cities of Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Hangzhou, and Jiangsu. The second phase is scheduled to start in 2018 and includes starting end-to-end Terminal and system interoperablily test (IoT) and large-scale field trials, with at least 20 sites in every city. Finally, in the last phase of trial China Mobile plans to conduct the pre-commercial 5G trial in 2019 with hundreds of sites in every city leading to around 10,000 base stations in 2020. While the first phase focuses on critical technology validation, the second phase is centered on product validation.

Leveraging Research & Development to Gain Leadership Position
ZTE’s key differentiation is its stress on innovation through increased focus on research and development. To be at the forefront of technological developments, ZTE doubled its R&D spending on 5G in 2016 to touch 2 billion yuan CNY, and around 3000 people are working on the technology at centers in China, Europe, and the US. This emphasis on R&D ensures that the company has come up with unique concepts to address the pain points of the telcos as they move towards 5G deployment.

“We are a major contributor to global 5G technologies and standards and are a member of more than 40 standards organizations including ITU, NGMN and IMT-2020 (5G) Promotion Group,” elaborates Cui Li.

The focus on R&D coupled with the learnings from the ongoing China Mobile trials are helping ZTE in addressing the pain points faced by the operators in preparing the networks for 5G.

ZTE has deployed its 5G New Radio (5G NR) and 5G New Generation Core (5G NGC) products in China Mobile’s Guangzhou trial. The company is also studying the interworking of the different features of the network equipment. The CMCC trial allows ZTE to evaluate the feasibility of Standalone, maturity of 5G products, the overall network performance of 5G NR, which will assist in the standardization process and also accelerate the development of commercial deployment of the technology.

“We are working with China Mobile to jointly investigate 3.5Ghz New Radio coverage capability and verify if it is feasible to select 3GPP R15 SA(Standalone mode) for 3.5Ghz New Radio deployment,” explains Cui Li.

ZTE has adopted a collaborative approach to push the development of the 5G ecosystem. The company is working with global chipset vendor, Qualcomm and China Mobile to test the interoperability testing and over-the-air field trials based on 5G NR specifications. The trial will utilize device prototypes from Qualcomm and base station solutions from ZTE to simulate real-world deployment scenarios.

Focus Pre5G
Earlier this year, China Mobile and ZTE together demonstrated Pre5G gigabit rate solution in a TD-LTE commercial network. They successfully tested the TD-LTE network with multi-carrier aggregation, 4×4 Multiple-Input-Multiple-Output and 256 QAM to reach the peak rate of 1Gbps. ZTE’s four core Pre5G technologies Giga+ mobile broadband (MBB) was used to enhance spectral efficiency and network-wide capacity to achieve the peak rate of 1Gbps.
ZTE has a very deep research in Massive MIMO, which is a key technical for 5G. With more than one hundred of antenna integrated in the RF unit, the ZTE LTE base station can enable the operator’s system capacity enhanced up to 8 time.
“These trial marks a new chapter in the development of the 5G ecosystem. With this trial, we have effectively demonstrated that it is possible to achieve 5G-like speed in a 4G network. We call this Pre5G, ” explains Cui Li.

Pre5G also supports cloud-based solutions to build more flexible and open networks. With this, the service providers would be able to cost-efficiently launch applications such as virtual reality, high-definition video, and Internet of Things (IoT) much ahead of schedule and will be able to take advantage of the market opportunities without having to wait for 5G to be ready for commercialization. More than 60 service providers have deployed ZTE’s Pre5G solutions.

Addressing Problem Areas with Innovative Solutions
ZTE is committed to finding solutions to address the major pain points as the service providers start to deploy 5G technologies. A key problem area for the telcos is a shortage of 5G spectrum. 5G facilitates ultra-broadband speed with extremely low latency of less than one millisecond.

“We believe Massive MIMO is the best technology for telcos with limited spectrum. It helps in improving spectrum efficiency, especially under multiple user scenarios. In the second phase of China’s national 5G field test, ZTE’s 5G NR embedded with Massive MIMO technology demonstrated over 19Gbps peak cell throughput in the 200MHz band wide in 5G NR test, which is much more than the 10Gbps requirement of ITU,” elaborates Cui Li. ZTE is also the first vendor to develop FDD-LTE massive MIMO commercial base station.

Low-frequency bands are always desirable for seamless coverage, but it is not always possible. To address this problem, ZTE recommends Space Division Multiple Access (SDMA) to enhance spectral efficiency. It is the only technology which multiples spectrum efficiency by enabling multi-channel communication at the same time by using the same frequency band. ZTE believes it is the most effective technology to address the problem of limited spectrum availability.

Ensuring Ultra Low Latency
One of the unique capabilities of 5G is ultra-low latency, which opens up a host of new use cases like mission-critical applications in public safety, autonomous driving, and remote surgery.

ZTE demonstrated its supremacy by setting a record of achieving super low latency of 0.416 milliseconds based on a unified test platform. The company achieved this feat during the ongoing trial 5G trial of the Chinese government. This is an especially remarkable considering that the current standard is one millisecond as defined by ITU.

The system is based on ZTE’s self-developed chipsets, which adapts itself in eMBB and uRLLC scenarios. “This reiterates our leadership position in the developing 5G ecosystem. We are committed to addressing the pain points of our customers so that they can maximize the benefits of this new technology. ZTE will work with partners to standardize this feature and build sustainable business model to monetize this capability,” says Cui Li.

Besides China Mobile, ZTE is also working with several prominent service providers, such as Softbank, Telefonica, VEON, Telenor and Singtel, among others to prepare their networks for the 5G era.

The China Mobile trial provides ZTE with priceless insights on the working of 5G networks. The trial is also a key step in driving standardization and development. With its emphasis on R&D and collaborative approach ZTE is relentless in its commitment to provide the best possible and cost-effective solution to address the pain points of the service providers.

This Knowledge Network article was produced by Total Telecom on behalf of ZTE. For more information about our content creation services, email