PARTNER CONTENT: Wang Quan, Vice President of ZTE (pictured), highlights the company’s latest innovations in digitizing economy with the deployment of private 5G network in vertical industries.

Q1: The industry has been exploring the best way to empower 5G vertical industries. Private networks are important ways for operators to achieve service transformation and increase revenues. Where do you think the private 5G network market is heading in the 1-3 years?

A: During the global 5G network commercialization, 5G private network has been widely recognized as the most effective mobile network service. According to the Private Mobile Networks Member Report provided by GSA, about 889 organizations all over the world have deployed private LTE/5G networks in 70 countries and territories, and 140 private networks have been deployed in the first half of 2022. Manufacturing is the industry that deploys the most private networks, followed by education, power utilities, and mining. According to a report released by Juniper Research, the annual expenditure of global private network hardware and services will reach about USD 12 billion by 2023, 116% higher than the estimated USD 5.5 billion in 2021. The market size of the private network will increase rapidly with the demands of customers in the vertical industry.

Q2: It is well known that standards are a key driver for replicating the entire technology industry. What is the progress of private network standards in the ToB market with diversified requirements?

  1. In the process of 5G integration into industries, communication standards of 5G should be integrated with the industry standard system development. Industry standard organizations (such as ICE) and industry organizations (such as 5G-ACIA and 5GAA) should also combine the specifications formulated by communication standard organizations (such as 3GPP, ITU, GSMA, and IEEE3) with specific industrial applications, and actively develop new technical standards and application specifications combined with 5G and the industry. 3GPP is an international organization that researches and formulates 5G standards. Up to now, the first three versions of 5G standards have all been completed. R15 is applicable to eMBB and some URLLC scenarios to meet the commercial requirements of 5G. R16 expands capabilities for the industry, enhancing TSNs, 5G LAN, and 5G NPN that support vertical industry networking and private network construction, expands the URLLC of the 5G capability triangle, enhances reliability and latency, improves differentiated service QoS assurance, and gradually improves 5G V2X. R17 continuously optimizes industrial 4.0, industrial IoT, and other demanding applications, introduces new enhanced features for URLLC, and further improves 5G positioning to meet the stricter requirements such as centimeter-level precision, and expands broadcast/multicast services to make 5G more convenient. The new R18 enhances 5G capabilities in an all-round manner. For example, interactive communication and deterministic communication are improved and enhanced. In addition, AI and communication perception are introduced to further improve network performance and provide strong support for more service application scenarios.

Q3Industry private networks are the focus of 5G network development. Telecom operators need to consider integrating and developing ToB private networks on the basis of 5G ToC networks. Please describe the changes in the construction ideas and business models of private networks in the 5G era?

A:In the 5G era, the service object of a private network was changed from a previous government department or a few large enterprises to many industrial enterprises. Therefore, the network construction idea and the business model of private network also changed fundamentally: According to a definition of an 3GPP R16 standard, the deployment mode of the 5G private network is classified into an independent deployment mode (SNPN, Stand-alone Non-Public Network) and a public network integration mode (PNI-NPN, Public Network Integrated Non-Public Network). The standalone deployment mode means that the dedicated spectrum is used to build a completely dedicated network that is not shared with anyone. In this mode, a dedicated frequency band needs to be allocated to an enterprise, and the enterprise independently performs network construction and O&M. Depending on the sharing with the public network, the public network integration mode can be divided into two types: Hybrid private network with partial sharing with the public network and virtual private network with end-to-end sharing with the public network. At present, ZTE has launched full-scenario 5G private network product solutions, which are oriented to operators’ physical dedicated networks, hybrid private networks, and virtual private networks, and provide customized products such as lightweight core networks, cloud-network integration, and high-availability UPF+. 5G private network devices have basically matured and been put into full commercial use. The R15 version has matured for commercial use, and the R16 version has been initially ready for commercial use.

Q4: An industry private network composed of 5G, MEC, and core network technologies can implement local transmission and processing of enterprise data, provide customized private network services that operate independently and are isolated from each other for differentiated requirements of different services in different industries, as well as support network capabilities such as wide coverage, high capacity, large connections and low latency. What are the 5G private network and core network solutions or products launched by ZTE? How to better adapt to market requirements

A: ZTE launches All-in-One iCube 2.0 private network products to meet the diversified scenario requirements, enabling operators to provide private 5G network as a service, and building a new 5G digital infrastructure with ultra-low costs, physical isolation, security and reliability, and continuous evolution for industries. Oriented to group-level applications, the full-capability 5GC can be deployed to provide complete network functions and cloudified features. The headquarters of group can manage branches in a unified manner. This solution has been implemented and launched in multiple large steel groups. For industrial campus applications, the standard i5GC can be deployed, and the 20Gbps forwarding capability can be provided by only two rack servers. Furthermore, at this summit, ZTE launched the new Mini5GC for field-level industrial applications. Featuring ultra-small, ultra-light, ultra-simple networking, and ultra-high integration, which can flexibly meet the requirements for dedicated scenarios such as safe explosion protection, flexible workstation adjustment, and vehicle-mounted emergency rescue in mining areas.

Q5At present, 5G private networks are bringing huge values to operators and industries. Operators are promoting in-depth integration of OT, CT, and IT technologies, and promoting private networks in various industries supported by 5G technologies. Which special scenarios are launched and what capabilities are enhanced to facilitate large-scale commercial replication of private networks from 1 to n?

A:Through in-depth collaboration with the industry, ZTE has been accumulating a lot of experience from the key sectors. Recently, ZTE innovatively launched three highly bespoke private 5G network scenarios.

Oriented to smart mining, ZTE launched a dual-engine private network, which extends the network from ground to underground. Relying on Mini5GC product, with a height of 1U and a size of A3, the equipment can be placed in an explosion-proof box. ZTE has obtained the explosion-proof certification for mining purposes, so that 5G networks can be deployed in mines. Even if the communication link between the mining and the ground is broken, the mining services are not affected. In addition to data services, mining applications also require voice calls and voice dispatching capabilities. The iIMS network capability is added to the original 5GC network, providing a dual-engine private network with “data and voice” services, and helping industry customers implement HD voice and video calls in the mining area.

Oriented to the power grid, ZTE launches a wide area private network, from a local area to a wide area. With the UPF+ high-availability solution, when the local UPF is disconnected with the control plane of the public network, the emergency access capability of local services is provided through the built-in “emergency control plane”. Network slicing is used to build multi-campus distributed and fully interconnected wide area networks for the power field. Recently, ZTE, together with China Mobile and NARI, won the “Most Innovative Private Network Project” award at Network X 2022 held in Amsterdam, Netherlands for its 5G green grid solution.

Oriented to manufacturing, ZTE launched the ICE (Industrial Communication Engine) private network, integrating CT and OT technologies, gradually developing from production assistance to industrial site networks. For example, multiple applications such as unmanned crane, intelligent quality inspection and coordination of multiple AGVs have been widely implemented. The ICE private network integrates key technologies such as 5G LAN, TSN, and FRER to achieve high-precision clock synchronization, ultra-low delay and jitter, reliable network transmission, and end-to-end closed-loop coordination. Due to the advantages of no wiring, flexible deployment and mobility, ICE private networks are widely used in smart factories, smart steel and smart ports.

Q65G private network is the basis and key for the digital transformation of the industry, which requires the joint efforts of all aspects of the E2E ecological chains, and connect all links from terminals, networks, applications to vertical industries. What are ZTE’s suggestions and outlook for this aspect?

A:All the industries are accelerating the implementation of 5G application scenarios, and 5G empowerment effect is gradually unleashed. With the large-scale applications of 5G ToB, in addition to above-mentioned three typical scenarios, there are many other scenarios such as transportation and logistics, healthcare, education, and public administration. The private networks market is an important bellwether of the success of 5G in industry. To accelerate the construction of new infrastructure and achieve continuous development of 5G ToB, ZTE will work with more industry partners in the next 1~3 years to combine product innovations with business model innovations and launch more scenario-based private network products and solutions, so as to empower the high-quality development of the industry and accelerate the prosperity of the 5G industry.