PARTNER FEATURE: It is widely accepted in the industry that the value of 5G lies in the vertical industry market, compared with previous generations of wireless technologies. Over the past two years, operators have worked with enterprises in the ecological chain to build 5G networks and have developed 400 million users. Meanwhile, they have continuously expanded vertical industries, and have created tens of thousands of 5G industry application cases, covering 22 key industries of national economy such as steel, grid and mine.

5G empowers vertical industries either with allocating public network resource for specific purpose or by deploying dedicated private networks. The private 5G has been favored by many industries and large-scale enterprises. At the PT Expo 2021, Chen Xinyu, Vice President of ZTE, shared the challenges of private 5G and the evolution strategies of ZTE’s 5G industry products.

Aiming at Three Types of Scenarios

With the in-depth development of industry digital transformation, the demand for industry private networks is increasing. As a key infrastructure for various innovative applications, 5G is becoming a rigid demand for digital transformation in thousands of industries. Chen Xinyu pointed out that there are three fields that have practical requirements and huge market space for 5G development.

The first is the industrial field, such as intelligent manufacturing, grid, port and mine. The second is the social governance and livelihood field, such as public security, telemedicine and smart education. The third is the entertainment field, such as ultra-HD live broadcast, AR/VR and tourism. ZTE is optimistic about the 5G requirements in these three types of scenarios, and has worked with operators and partners to carry out lots of 5G + vertical industry applications in more than 15 fields.

Typical cases: In Nansha District, Guangzhou, China Southern Power Grid , China Mobile, ZTE, and many other enterprises jointly build a smart power network. In Wenshan, Yunnan, Shenhuo Aluminum, together with China Mobile and ZTE, built a 5G smart chemical factory based on the private 5G enterprise network. Shaanxi Yulin Energy&Chemical Industry Co., Ltd., Smart Mining Company of China Coal Technology&Engineering Group,  China Broadcast Network (CBN), China Mobile and ZTE deployed the Private 5G Core (i5GC+iIMS) for Dahaize Coal to provide  end-to-end 5G VoNR HD video services and guarantee safe underground production by real-time scheduling and command, realizing the world’s first 5G 700M+2.6G integration networking in the coal industry. Together with leading enterprises such as China Unicom and Shaanxi Coal Group, ZTE built many 5G smart mine model projects such as Huangling Mine.

Building a Lightweight Private 5G Network

Behind the exploration of 5G in vertical industries, more severe challenge are emerging, like scenario complexity and requirement fragmentation. Chen Xinyu introduced that manufacture, grid, security, and financial industries have different requirements for network coverage, reliability, security isolation, data confidentiality, equipment mobility, and network control rights. The digital transformation of the industry urgently requires a flexible and agile dedicated private 5G network, which features flexible deployment, simple O&M, customizable functions, and determinable SLA, and addresses industry security and cost requirements.

Behind ZTE’s breakthroughs in the industry market is the “All in one private 5G solution” concept, which creates a series of product solutions including the TECS CloudFoundation (TCF) that integrates a variety of resources and the lightweight i5GC based on cloud native, providing enterprise users with a private 5G industry network that is“flexible to customize”, “simple to operate” and “low cost to start the business”.

Chen Xinyu pointed out that the i5GC features small size and high performance. It highly integrates and optimizes the functions of over ten 5G Core NFs to provide the best service at the lowest cost. “We can  deploy the 5G Core with only one server, and use the built-in AI to realize visual operation monitoring and automatic O&M. i5GC is very suitable to be deployed in factory, campus, hospital, oilfield, grid, port, and other industries. In addition, combined with the IMS, it can provide 5G industry voice services for dispatching and communication in the industrial campus. ”

Based on the above customized 5G industry products, ZTE launched the 5G iCube industry cloud-network integration solution. “By building a lightweight 5G network close to users, equipped with a dual-core cloud infrastructure that supports VMs and containers, and unified EMS to provide industry customers with connection and computing resources through the on-demand synergy of cloud and network. Factory pre-installation and on-site one-click provisioning greatly reduce the complexity of private network construction and maintenance.

Transition from the center to the edge

At present, the private 5G is in the early stage of development, and operators, equipment vendors, and industry-leading enterprises are continuously exploring and trialing. For example, in May this year, Sany Heavy Industry, Beijing Mobile and ZTE jointly released the industry’s first CUBE 3×3 industry cloud-network integration solution, achieving integrated deployment of cloud, network, application and maintenance. It precisely matches service scenarios of the industrial campus, and incubates lots of innovative applications such as on-demand digital collection, machine vision, digital twin, cloudified AGV and integrated positioning, to improve the production quality and efficiency of factory workshops.

Chen Xinyu believes that 5G will gradually shift from the center to the edge when entering the industry market on a large scale. 5G and edge combine to derive a series of technical innovations such as 5G MEC, heterogeneous computing, hardware acceleration, and edge opening. 5G industry applications are driving the innovative upgrade of private 5G.

“Private 5G will be further enhanced for industry applications. For example, the delivery and rapid iteration based on the microservice granularity can more agilely and flexibly meet the diversity and rapid customization requirements of industrial applications. The introduction of TSN can help provide high-bandwidth for uplink traffic and control signals for downlink traffic. ” Chen Xinyu said, “In the campus, there are multiple systems such as wifi, optical, NB and 4/5G. Private 5G can provide multiple access, FMC and other ubiquitous access capabilities.”

The combination of these new features and capabilities makes it possible for industrial manufacturing industries such as high-precision control and LAN communication to evolve from wired to wireless. The launch of lightweight private 5G is not the end. On the one hand, ZTE works together with partners to promote the trial construction and business model research of private 5G, and promotes and replicates successful cases. On the other hand, ZTE has intensified its iterative development and evolution of 5G industry solutions to accelerate the launch of private 5G in more industry scenarios.