ZTE to launch high-speed 4G router with Softbank

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 09 June, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 09 June, 2012, 12:00am


ZTE, the world's fifth-largest supplier of telecommunications equipment, plans to step up its release of 4G smartphones and other devices this year to meet surging demand from operators of a new generation of high-speed mobile networks worldwide.

He Shiyou, a ZTE executive vice-president and the head of its terminals division, yesterday said the company was pushing forward with 'strategic 4G terminal roll-out in several markets'.

One of those key markets is Japan, where Shenzhen-based ZTE has committed to deliver a new router to 4G network operator SoftBank Mobile in August. The company, Japan's third-biggest mobile carrier, switched on its 4G network based on the technology called long term evolution (LTE) in February.

The ZTE-developed SoftBank 102Z router, which resembles a slim mobile phone, can provide internet download speeds of up to 76 megabits per second on SoftBank's network. It can simultaneously support 10 connected mobile devices.

'SoftBank is very selective when choosing collaborators,' said Wang Qi, the terminal division manager at ZTE Japan. 'ZTE's partnership with SoftBank on this router is indicative of our dedication to quality products and the worldwide development of 4G.'

ZTE's terminals business includes basic voice-and-text-capable 2G handsets, internet-ready 3G and 4G smartphones, media tablets, laptop computer-attached data cards and home network routers.

Hong Kong-listed ZTE, which posted first-quarter revenue of US$2.96 billion, announced in April a plan to increase its global smartphone shipments to between 40 and 50 million units this year from 15 million last year.

The company was ranked fourth by technology research firm IDC among the world's largest suppliers of smartphones in the first quarter this year, with sales of 19.1 million units and a 4.8 per cent global market share. It was ahead of LG Electronics, but behind top-ranked Samsung Electronics, Nokia and Apple.

Market research firm Strategy Analytics has forecast 4G LTE handset shipments to reach 67 million units worldwide this year from 6.8 million last year.

'The mobile industry is entering a breakout year for 4G LTE technology,' said Neil Mawston, the executive director at Strategy Analytics. 'LTE has quickly become a high-growth, high-value market that no operator, service developer, device vendor or component maker can afford to ignore.'

Advanced 4G networks have theoretical internet download speeds of up to 100Mbps. The fastest existing 3G networks run at 42Mbps. There are two recognised 4G LTE standards: the widely adopted frequency-division duplex (FDD) and time-division duplex, which is the standard backed by Beijing.

Christian Daigneault, the chief technology officer at CSL, which launched Hong Kong's first FDD LTE network in November 2010, estimates there are currently about 70 4G networks in commercial operation around the world.