PARTNER INTERVIEW: ZTE CTO Xu Huijun (pictured below) outlines the company’s progress on pre-standard 5G deployments and gives a glimpse of what’s in store for MWC and 2017.

MWL: ZTE’s Pre5G solutions have had a strong market reception globally. What are your plans to grow Pre5G in 2017?

Xu: ZTE has deployed more than 40 networks globally with our proprietary Pre5G technology. This year ZTE will focus on working with leading operators in Asia Pacific, Europe and the Middle East on Pre5G network deployments, as we believe Pre5G enables operators to emulate the performance of 5G networks on existing LTE infrastructure by delivering four key attributes: mobile broadband with gigabit-plus data rates; massive IoT; superior user experience; and cloud-architecture carrier networks.

ZTE recently became the first company to offer an FDD-LTE based massive MIMO solution. ZTE has led the industry in massive MIMO technology innovations, as we were also the first to offer TDD-based massive MIMO base stations in 2014.

Unlike TD-LTE, FDD-LTE networks use a pair of frequency bands for data uplink and downlink. To develop a FDD-LTE based Massive MIMO system, it is necessary to address channel reciprocity. ZTE leveraged our leadership in TDD-based massive-MIMO to develop our patented algorithms for FDD-LTE based systems and our own baseband chipsets to successfully deploy massive MIMO on FDD-LTE networks.

MWL: What is ZTE’s strategy for 5G?
Xu: ZTE has a comprehensive strategy in our 5G research to ensure we prioritise resource allocation to develop core technologies covering network architecture, multi-antenna technology, high-frequency communications, IoT integration and support new functionality. As a result, ZTE has built up a deep pool of resources in 5G with strong expertise in core technologies, including massive MIMO, MUSA (multi-user shared access), FB-OFDM (filter-bank OFDM), virtual cell and SLA (service level agreements).

ZTE is regarded as a leader in the development of 5G core technologies, including our converged and flexible UAI (unified air interface) and in cloud-aware soft-networks. ZTE’s MUSA technology is the only multiple access solution in the industry that uses extended codes in the short complex domain to enable high-payload multiple access without the need of scheduling. This technology has excellent potential in large-capacity 5G IoT networks in the future.

MWL: As networks carry more video traffic and the quality of the video increases, what new market opportunities will be generated for carriers and solution providers? What are ZTE’s plans for Big Video?
Xu: The number of pay-television subscribers is forecast to exceed one billion globally for the first time this year, generating a market valued at more than $150 billion. Online video is accounting for an increasingly dominant proportion of network traffic as users demand higher-quality and interactive online video services such as 4K and 8K video, virtual reality and augmented reality.

Innovations in online video services provide operators with a strategic growth opportunity, and many carriers have already become key players in the Big Video value chain through acquisitions and investments in content production. Operators must ensure their network infrastructure can keep pace with such rapid innovations in media and online video.

Based on market forecasts, mobile video traffic will increase ten times between 2016 and 2020 globally, while desktop video traffic will grow four to five times. These trends will be accentuated in developed economies and this will present large opportunities and challenges for operators in advanced markets as they must revamp their network infrastructure to meet the surge in online video demand.

ZTE regards Big Video as a key part of our strategy, and we will focus on four key areas to capture this opportunity:
• Offering end-to-end IPTV and OTT video solutions to provide operators with the capabilities to provision world-class online video services;
• Delivering the best network solutions including Pre5G, 5G and 10G PON to help operators to build virtualised, simple and high-capacity network infrastructure around connected data centers, enabling low-cost and high-performance access for superior user experience;
• Working closely with operators to leverage Big Video technologies to develop compelling smart home solutions;
• Developing an open industry ecosystem that creates value for operators, video content providers and advertisers.

MWL: What is ZTE’s strategy for IoT?
Xu: ZTE has an important role to play as an enabler of IoT development, from driving innovation in connected devices and terminals, to networks, applications, analytics, services for different industry verticals, as well as information security.

ZTE will be working closely with our ecosystem partners and focus on developing end-to-end IoT solutions in four areas: smart city; smart homes; industrial internet; and connected vehicles.

At MWC ZTE will be hosting demonstrations for NB-IoT solutions for smart metering, smart parking, water pollution monitoring, smart bicycles, smart street lighting and smart homes.

MWL: What are your plans for NFV and SDN products?
Xu: ZTE is a leader in network virtualisation and cloud network architecture technologies to help operators revamp their network infrastructure, network functions and operations. This is key for digital transformation for operators and enterprises.

ZTE’s ElasticNet flexible network architecture platform enables deployments in virtual data centres, bearer networks, wireless core networks and orchestration. ZTE’s ElasticNet solutions are deployed in more than 50 commercial networks, and more than 150 trial networks. For example, ZTE is working with Telefonica on cloud network architecture projects in seven Latin American markets, and we are also working with VimpelCom on a vEPC converged network covering five countries, the biggest network of its type in the world.