5G brings several impressive benefits over previous-generation wireless network technologies.
It delivers higher speeds, less latency, capacity for a larger number of connected devices, less interference and better efficiency.
ZTE is one of the world’s leading developers of this next-generation technology.
The company accounts for a third of China’s 5G market share and has already won 46 commercial 5G contracts around the world.
ZTE CTO of the MTO Sales Division Chen Qiong believes that 5G has a bright future in South Africa.
Qiong elaborated on how ZTE is working to roll out their 5G networks and equipment, and how the technology will be beneficial to business and society.
What 5G will contribute
Qiong explained 5G services will offer benefits in three main areas:
- eMBB – Enhanced Mobile Broadband for faster speeds.
- URLLC – Ultra Reliable Low Latency Communications for lower response times.
- mMTC – Massive Machine Type Communications allowing for more connected devices.
In mobile broadband deployment, 5G device speeds will be around 10 times faster than 4G, Qiong said.
“This will help to develop mobile broadband use-cases such as AR/VR [Augmented Reality/Virtual Reality] media and applications, UltraHD or 360-degree streaming video and much more,” Qiong said.
5G’s URLLC capability will support latency as low as 1ms and can be used for applications which require extremely fast response times, such as the remote control of manufacturing, automated vehicles or healthcare equipment.
5G mMTC connectivity density also allows for connecting up to 1,000,000 devices per square-kilometre, opening up opportunities for further smart services, especially in the business environment.
ZTE’s 5G solutions
ZTE provides a fully-fledged 5G ecosystem, covering the core network, radio network and other components, Qiong explained.
This includes the following:
- Common Core – Based on a virtualized solution that can support 4G and 5G at the same time.
- Radio network – NSA+SA dual mode base stations.
- High-performance massive MIMO AAU.
- 5G terminals.
ZTE has already commercially launched 4G/5G common core, high-performance massive MIMO 5G AAU, and 5G-supported 2/3/4G AAU.
There are different types which can be chosen from for different coverage scenarios, Qiong noted.
AI-assisted 5G planning
ZTE is using AI to enhance its 5G network planning.
“At the beginning of 5G network construction, 4G network data is used by AI for 5G planning,” Qiong explained.
“The accurate planning is based on big data analysis of measurement reports and AI forecasting,” he stated.
An AI algorithm uses both real-time traffic and historic data for prediction of future traffic.
This shortens service provisioning time and improves provisioning efficiency by 80%, Qiong said.
In order to deliver its 5G technology to the world, ZTE is cooperating with more than 70 operators in various countries, Qiong stated.
This includes collaboration to launch commercial 5G networks with all four operators in China and three major operators in Europe.
“By the end of 2020, there will be more than 600,000 5G base stations and all main cities will be covered by 5G,” Qiong stated.
In Africa, ZTE is currently working closely with operators to test and verify 5G. It has already delivered 5G trials and showcased with MTN in South Africa, Nigeria and Uganda.
“Alongside the fast growth of 3G/4G networks in Africa, 5G early deployment and trials for the testing implementations of use-cases are expected to launch across the continent in the coming 2 to 3 years.”
Using 4G and 5G together
Qiong said the development of African mobile broadband networks should combine 4G and 5G, as the former technology still holds plenty of potential.
“5G is not a separate network from 4G. 5G can be achieved through the smooth evolution of the existing 4G bands and products,” Qiong explained.
He noted that 5G networks have two networking modes – NSA (non-standalone) and SA (standalone), the latter of which offers significant advantages in performance, capacity and vertical industry support.
Qiong therefore recommends that African countries don’t duplicate investment in NSA.
“5G will be an effective supplement, focusing on the user experience improvement of mobile broadband customers, and at the same time, expanding to new services,” Qiong stated.
ZTE aims to make 5G a key enabler for industries in Africa to generate greater economic growth.
This article was published in partnership with ZTE.