PARTNER CONTENT: Currently, the development of the world’s digital economy is accelerating, and large, medium, and small enterprises are actively exploring digital transformation. Digitalization has reached the strategic level. Similarly, in the field of information communication, the integration of 5G and cloud computing technologies and the frequent interaction of mass data make the network environment more complicated and the security risks more diversified. As a result, the problems, such as the difficulty of manual network operation and maintenance and the increase of costs, need to be jointly dealt with by the industry. The popularization and integration of big data and AI technologies have become the inevitable trend of the next stage.

Recently, the “2023 Digital & Intelligent Network Forum” was successfully held at ZTE headquarters in Shenzhen, China. ZTE Senior Vice President (SVP) Sun Fangping presented at the conference and delivered a speech, saying that ZTE is committed to leading the digital network deployment and intelligent network operation, and has built an iEPMS digital delivery platform, an end-to-end cloud-based, intelligent, and simplified product tool system, and uSmartNet2.0 autonomous network solution. ZTE is willing to work with the industry chain to help customers build digital and intelligent networks and promote the digital and intelligent transformation and upgrade of the society.

Digital & Intelligent Network has become the trend to promote high-quality network development

As a communication network development trend in recent years, digital and intelligent networks are essentially developed in response to the digital and intelligent development of the society. At present, the industry has recognized the importance of digital and intelligent networks, and has reached a consensus on jointly building digital and intelligent networks. Operators and equipment manufacturers have also put forward their own development plans and digital and intelligent network implementation solutions.

With the advancement of digitalization, China’s autonomous network construction has reached the L2/L3 level (some networks). Currently, the industry is accelerating its progress on the standards and practices for building digital and intelligent networks. China Mobile, China Telecom, and China Unicom have set development goals for the construction of autonomous networks, and will achieve L4 network-wide autonomy in 2025. ZTE has also presented the L4 blueprint, contributing solutions and technologies to the higher-order autonomous network.

In fact, as the world’s leading provider of telecommunications equipment and solutions, ZTE released the White Paper on 5G Network Intelligence in 2018, proposing the concept of 5G+AI. In 2019, ZTE proposed the “Self-Evolution Network” solution to promote the full intelligent evolution of 5G networks based on ubiquitous AI. In 2020, ZTE released the ZTE Self-Evolution Network Whitepaper for autonomous networks. In 2021, ZTE launched the uSmartNet self-evolution network system, which, based on intelligent core algorithms, provides hierarchical, domain-based, and grading evolution from network element generation, single-domain autonomy, and cross-domain coordination to support operators in rapidly improving their autonomous network capabilities.

In recent years, ZTE has attached great importance to the development of digital and intelligent networks, and accumulated sufficient experience in a series of practices from concept development to intelligent algorithm evolution. To further promote the development of digital and intelligent networks, ZTE, together with partners in the industry, launched the digital and intelligent network forum themed “Ultimate Services, Intelligence Leading” to jointly explore the new topic of digital and intelligent network construction.

ZTE believes that the communications industry is actively introducing AIGC, big data, and other cutting-edge technologies to achieve automatic network management and optimization, improve network performance, reduce operating costs, and provide better communications services for users. In addition, ZTE hopes to promote exchanges and cooperation between industries through forums, promote the application and development of digitalization and intelligence in various fields, and bring more innovation and progress to society.

Providing One-Stop Services to upgrade digital & intelligent network capabilities

The construction and upgrade of the digital and intelligent network is a complicated and long-term project. In view of the security, standards, compatibility, scenarios, and other multi-dimensional problems in the digital and intelligent network, it is of particular importance to build an integrated digital and intelligent network.

ZTE is committed to achieving the ultimate experience and network construction efficiency for customers. Considering the diversified requirements of customers and the differentiated types of basic network construction, such as new construction, replacement, upgrade, expansion, and integration, ZTE provides one-stop services to increase network value. At present, ZTE has built a platform and carried out extensive practices.

At the forum, Jiang Yongzhong, Vice President of ZTE, said that ZTE has continuously promoted digital innovation and built a self-developed digital delivery platform named iEPMS (Intelligent Engineering Project Management System), which features “Data & Computing Dual-drive”, “Real-time Perception”, “Intelligent Decision-making”, “Outward Extension”, “Smart Collaboration”, and “Win-win cooperation”. This platform covers the entire end-to-end processes of contracts, supply chain, procurement, engineering, services, and finance, and is the first in the industry to realize the automation, intelligence, and digitalization of network deployment and engineering project management.

ZTE has developed a set of mature standard operating procedures (SOPs) to support the entire end-to-end network construction process. In terms of delivery management and control, the digital delivery platform iEPMS builds digital and intelligent capabilities based on the scenarios of “ultimate search, recommendation, social contact, and experience” to simplify the network deployment of delivery projects. The iEPMS has been widely used in more than 120,000 projects around the world, supporting the communication network delivery of operators in more than 160 countries, with over 180 thousand registered users and over 1.2 million monthly log-in. The iEPMS provides intelligent delivery project management and visual progress management. In 2023, the iEPMS is interconnected with the operators in Zhejiang, Beijing, Sichuan, and Henan to exchange project completion document signatures, progress, and quality data. It breaks isolated data islands, and improves both network construction efficiency and quality.

In terms of ecological co-construction, digital and intelligent contacts are used to establish connections between customers and the ZTE, jointly promoting both network construction efficiency and quality. ZTE proposes to make capabilities and data into services, thus to minimize the transaction cost and maximize the value of engineering delivery.

Building an intelligent O&M and security dual-drive digital and intelligent network

Digital and intelligent technologies and capabilities, as the basis and core for building digital and intelligent networks, greatly affect operation efficiency and user experience. Therefore, operators and equipment manufacturers should focus on these two factors when building digital and intelligent networks.

ZTE constantly pursues network technology leadership and quality leadership, and has achieved an end-to-end intelligent and simplified product tool system covering all aspects of planning, construction, optimization, maintenance, and operation.

Based on the development and application of the cloud-based, intelligent, and simplified integrated solution of intelligent operation, ZTE uses the iTech Cloud technology delivery platform to achieve the full-process data interconnection from engineering projects to O&M services.

In terms of intelligent O&M, big data and AI are used to build an intelligent brain to provide digital and intelligent O&M capabilities for hierarchical, domain-based, and cross-domain evolution from NE, single-domain, and grading layers. In this way, fast service-driven O&M closed-loop can be achieved, accelerating the development of the entire network to a higher-order level.

In terms of autonomous networks, as one of the important participants in the industry, ZTE also demonstrated the L4-oriented uSmartNet2.0 autonomous network solution. By systematically building service-layer capabilities such as real-time service perception, accurate service prediction, and intelligent decision-making, this solution closes single-domain problems downwards to enable network adaption to services, and empowers users upwards to achieve commercial closed-loop, thus continuously improving value and efficiency, and fully supporting operators to develop into high-order autonomous networks.

In addition, from the perspective of data security and the operation security of the network itself, network security should become an important factor in the digital and intelligent process. According to the IDC survey, 71% of executives believe that concerns about network security are hampering innovation within their organizations, and security is becoming a cornerstone and a safeguard for industrial digital transformation.

As the reporter learned, at this year’s Beijing Communication Expo, ZTE proposed an overall SeCube security solution to guarantee the security of industrial digital transformation.

ZTE has created new products in network security, data security, and application security. In terms of network security, through 5G private network security, computing power network security, and innovative hyper-convergence security gateway, ZTE builds energy-saving and convenient cloud network security infrastructure. In terms of data security, focusing on the full-lifecycle security of data, ZTE innovatively launches a privacy computing blockchain all-in-one computer to effectively ensure the security of user data element sharing. In terms of application security, the hybrid office security, big video security, and quantum trusted cloud solutions based on the zero-trust concept provide secure and efficient application operating environments for user applications.

Not only at the product end, ZTE is also committed to delivering secure and trustworthy products and services to customers by adhering to the concept of “incorporating security into blood, improving trust transparently”. For example, in the delivery field, ZTE has established a risk-management-based network security governance system, which covers authorization management, security deployment, remote access management, network data protection, asset security management, incident response, and partner management, and has been deeply integrated into the commissioning, acceptance, handover, and O&M phases to ensure secure and reliable delivery, secure operation of network devices, and effective protection of customer networks and data.

Finally, it should be noted that the rapid development of the generative AI big-model technology represented by GPT4, its powerful data processing capabilities and human-like reasoning and decision-making capabilities are profoundly changing the industry and bringing development space to the communications field.

The attendees discussed the role of the big model in the digital and intelligent network, main application areas, challenges, and security. It can be seen that there are many problems to be solved in terms of engineering for network deployment and O&M implementation. For example, many specific tasks involving planning, construction, maintenance, optimization, and operation in the vertical field of the digital and intelligent network are difficult to train a unified big model that is universal for all tasks. However, in the long term, big models can play more roles in intelligent network deployment and O&M and better network experience.

In the new era, the digitalization and intelligence of network deployment and operation services will be further improved, and network security and reliability will be better guaranteed. ZTE also advocated cooperation among industry chain partners to build a more intelligent and secure communication network.