China’s ZTE is betting on popularity of virtual reality and high definition videos

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 30 June, 2016, 10:44am
UPDATED : Thursday, 30 June, 2016, 10:44am

Chinese telecom equipment company ZTE is betting big on the popularity of virtual reality and high definition videos with its new “big video” solution, which will allow consumers to quickly stream high capacity videos via mobile networks on a variety of devices.

Dubbed the Big Video 4K+ solution, ZTE said it is targeted at mobile operators that have to constantly improve their networks to handle the technology challenges that come with increasing mobile video traffic.

Launched at the Mobile World Congress Shanghai 2016 on Wednesday, the Big Video 4K+ solution consists of smart hardware devices such as set-top boxes and VR video-compatible smartphones, a network solution that supports higher bandwidth with low latency, and an evaluation system that assesses users’ video experience via big data.

ZTE will also work with content partners to provide mobile operators with high definition 4K, 8K, virtual reality and augmented reality videos for users.

Consumers’ rising appetite for video, driven in part by IPTV and on-demand videos from over-the-top (OTT) providers, has led to a sharp rise in data traffic. A mobile economy report by the GSM Association reported that video data traffic from China already accounts for more than half of China’s mobile data traffic, and Cisco forecasted that by 2020, 82 per cent of all consumer internet traffic will come from video.

According to Xiang Jiying, ZTE’s chief scientist, virtual reality videos will gain in popularity over the next few years. The upcoming 5G network, which is expected to commercially roll out in 2020, will play an important role in supporting the resulting increase in data traffic, said Xiang.

Virtual reality [is] far from satisfactory, the resolution is too low … we need to improve the [network] capacity to handle virtual reality videos
Xiang Jiying, ZTE’s chief scientist

“Today, virtual reality [is] far from satisfactory, the resolution is too low … we need to improve the [network] capacity to handle virtual reality videos,” he said.

ZTE’s Big Video solutions are currently supported by its Pre5G network and the company has already partnered with the three Chinese state-owned telecom companies – China Mobile. China Unicom and China Telecom – to roll out the products, according to You Yan, vice president for ZTE’s technology planning development department.

ZTE’s Pre5G network is an intermediate step between 4G and 5G, and runs 5G technology on existing 4G equipment to increase network speed.

You believes ZTE’s Big Video can help operators deal with technology challenges and to develop better video services for end-users as demand for higher definition or VR videos increases over the next few years.

“High definition videos need a bandwidth of about four to eight megabits … whereas virtual reality videos require bandwidths ranging from 100 megabits to 1 gigabit,” said You. She pointed out that ZTE’s technology would allow end-users to have a good video experience even with high capacity VR videos over a mobile network.

You also said that a “win-win” video ecosystem is required, as operators need to work with partners such as content providers, advertisers and equipment companies like ZTE to satisfy the consumer appetite for video content over the next few years.