China’s ZTE picks Tokyo for 20th global R&D centre to develop 5G mobile tech, tap local talent and chase industry alliances

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 04 November, 2015, 6:54pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 04 November, 2015, 7:22pm

ZTE, China’s second-largest telecommunications equipment manufacturer, expects to reinforce efforts to promote next-generation mobile systems with the opening of its new research and development centre in Tokyo on Wednesday.

Shi Lirong, the president and chief executive at ZTE, said the facility will support the company’s development initiatives in 5G technology, the successor to current high-speed 4G mobile systems.

“Japan is home to many of ZTE’s most important customers,” Shi said.

“The new R&D centre will enable ZTE to recruit top local talents to join in our research.”

The Tokyo facility represents the latest addition to Hong Kong-listed ZTE’s global research and development network, which now comprise 20 centres.

It also provides ZTE with a key technology outpost in Japan, where the company aimed to form partnerships with telecommunications network operators and academic institutions.

READ MORE: ZTE eyes overseas projects as profits rise

Japanese operator NTT DoCoMo is slated to conduct 5G network trials as part of the country’s extensive preparations for the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics.

NTT DoCoMo, China Mobile and South Korean telecommunications network operator KT Corp agreed in March to an ambitious 5G technical collaboration ahead of the start of trials in their respective markets.

Experts have previously estimated that a 5G mobile service user would be able to download a full-length, high-definition movie in a second. That makes it about 1,000 times faster than basic 4G mobile service, which offers a theoretical maximum speed of 150 megabits per second.

Juniper Research has forecast healthy adoption of 5G mobile systems over the next decade, with network operator service revenue expected to reach US$65 billion worldwide by 2025 from an estimated US$100 million in 2020.

READ MORE: China will be at front of global pack for launch of 5G networks by 2020, says telecoms giant ZTE

In July, ZTE signed a memorandum of understanding with Japanese telecommunications and internet services operator SoftBank Group to collaborate on research and development in so-called Pre5G mobile technology.

That Pre5G strategy involves using existing 4G network equipment to deliver what ZTE considers to be 5G-level mobile services.

ZTE, which is based in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen, plans to spend US$220 million on research and development activities on 5G and other advanced mobile technologies from this year to 2018, it said.

The company’s 5G research includes network design, multiple antenna technology, high-frequency communications and so-called “Internet of Things” architecture.