Mobile World Congress 2017

ZTE kick-starts global race to 5G with advanced equipment geared for deployment from 2018

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 28 February, 2017, 5:43pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 01 March, 2017, 11:46am

ZTE Corp, the world’s fourth largest telecommunications equipment supplier, is poised to kick-start the global race to roll-out 5G networks with advanced products ready for trial deployment from the third quarter next year.

Shenzhen-based ZTE said on Tuesday that its new range of equipment would enable existing 4G mobile services providers to reduce the time to build 5G-ready networks, according to a statement released on the sidelines of the annual Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain.

These proprietary “Pre5G” solutions enable operators to emulate the performance of 5G networks on existing 4G infrastructure, and are easily upgradable to 5G in future when the universal standards for the mobile system are completed, according to ZTE.

The announcement came a day after ZTE and Huawei Technologies joined an international contingent of mobile communications companies that has called for the swift completion of “5G New Radio” specifications, which are being developed by the telecommunications association known as the 3rd Generation Partnership Project as part of future universal 5G standards.

That would enable large-scale trials and deployments as early as 2019 on the sub-6 gigahertz spectrum bands, as well as the so-called millimetre wave (mmWave) spectrum bands between 30GHz and 300GHz, geared for 5G mobile services.

The new mmWave and sub-6Ghz mobile base stations launched by ZTE in Barcelona use so-called beam tracking, beam forming, massive multiple input, multiple output and other key technologies behind future 5G networks.

“ZTE will work together with partners to push forward 5G trials and promote the launch of commercial 5G [networks] worldwide,” said Xu Huijun, the chief technology officer at ZTE.

The Hong Kong-listed firm, which sells network equipment to about 500 telecommunications operators in more than 160 countries, said its 5G products are expected to be commercially deployed by various service providers in the first quarter of 2019.

The speed of a country’s adoption of 5G may determine how fast its industries and consumers can start benefiting from the advances the new mobile system will deliver.

Significant network improvements come in the form of enhanced mobile broadband, which supports applications like augmented and virtual reality entertainment and distance education; machine-to-machine communications, for large-scale implementation of the internet of things devices; and ultra-reliable, low-latency communications for applications like tele-surgery and self-driving cars.

“In the case of China, the government is very keen to push the buildout of 5G, not only to help establish the country as a key player in the 5G [hardware and software] supply chain, but also ... to support initiatives to become a leading digital economy,” Jefferies equity analyst Edison Lee said in a recent report.

The International Telecommunications Union, a United Nations agency, expects to reach agreement for a single global 5G standard between 2019 and 2020.

There are 25 mobile network operators which have announced 5G tests ahead of the completion of final standards for the technology, according to US-based network test, monitoring and assurance systems provider Viavi Solutions last week.

Twelve of those have progressed to field tests, while four plan to conduct 5G trials, it said.

China Mobile, the world’s largest wireless network operator, said last week that it plans to push forward with over-the-air field trials on the mainland’s 3.5GHz spectrum band in the second half of this year, employing key technologies from ZTE and Qualcomm Technologies.