LIVE FROM GLOBAL 5G EVENT, VALENCIA: Chinese vendor ZTE expressed confidence it can challenge European rivals in 5G deployments on the continent, throwing down the gauntlet with a series of demonstrations, including a 5G-powered hologram call with Orange Spain.

Speaking to Mobile World Live, Alex Wang, MD of 5G RAN solutions at ZTE’s wireless division, put Europe on par with China in terms of importance for the company, pointing to operator contracts in Austria, Slovakia and Italy.

“Europe is definitely one of the most important markets of us. It has a large congregation of mobile operators in more than 30 countries, and there are a lot of operators requiring trials and pre-commercial launches, with a lot of competition in the market.”

Wang (pictured, right) also believes ZTE has the edge over rivals Ericsson and Nokia because of its existing work in Massive MIMO.

“For other companies, this technology is maybe new, but for us, we started this during the pre-5G era five years ago, so we are leading competitors by many years.”

He declined to state how many 5G contracts it has secured so far, unlike rivals Nokia and Ericsson, but suggested it could make an announcement at MWC Shanghai next week.

Holograms and more
To illustrate the company’s 5G activity so far, Wang said “seeing is believing”.

He was referring to the numerous demos the company has held here, covering use cases in automotive, robotics and entertainment.

The headline grabber was the hologram demo, in which an Orange executive appeared on stage from the operator’s local headquarters over a 5G connection.

Wang said the demo represented the work ZTE had put into 5G from a technology point of view, but noted the capability was only a concept at the moment.

“For any technology to be adopted in the mass market, it doesn’t only depend on the tech, the cost also has to be reasonably acceptable. That could take another two-to-three years.”

Security over commercial
Addressing the concerns currently surrounding Chinese vendors, Wang insisted ZTE puts security “on top of any commercial interests”, and it agrees with the importance of the issue in the same way as operators and governments. 

“From the product itself to company-wide security, and the government regulations for each country, we are comfortable with our solutions,” he said.