Interview with: Bai Yanmin, VP of ZTE, President of TDD Product line
Why do you think MM won the judges’ hearts at Mobile World Congress?
I think there are two major aspects: the unique innovation and commercial value.
As GSMA judges commented, ZTE Paper, the Pre5G Massive MIMO base station, is a Disruptive Innovation. It can provide 4-6 times spectrum efficiency improvement compared to a traditional base station, enabling operators to deal with rapidly growing data traffic using existing sites and spectrum. Besides, It is compatible to 4G terminals so that no change is needed to terminals. Pre5G Massive MIMO uses 3D beam-forming technology to expand from 2D to 3D coverage, and implements seamless coverage. The technology is flexible and can adapt to high-rise buildings, hotspot macro coverage, stadium coverage, and last-mile scenarios, dramatically enhancing overall network quality.
Since 2015 Q4, Pre5G Massive MIMO has been commercially applied in our Asia strategic market and was well accepted as one of the most promising products in mobile industry. So far, we have -conducted the field tests with many operators about Pre5G/5G and will deploy Massive MIMO in wider range worldwide very soon.
The commercialization of Massive MIMO will accelerate the industrialization of Pre5G and stimulate 4G industry in Asia.
What other key Pre-5G technologies or developments can we expect to see more of in 2016?
ZTE is expected to develop more innovative technology on Pre5G at 4 perspectives: network capacity, user experience, massive connection and cloud network.
To improve network capacity, we have Massive MIMO, Pre-UDN (Ultra Dense Network) and 256 QAM. To provide better user experience, we have D-MIMO, Massive CA, LAA /LWA. To achieve massive connection, we have NB-IoT and D2D. To build cloud network which has aroused a heated discussion these days, we have Cloud works and IT RAN.
This February in the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, We displayed a Pre5G Ultra Dense Network (UDN) solution and did a live demo. This technology provides a solution to address increasing interference between base stations with overlapping cells in dense networks and increases system efficiency and network capacity by frequency multiplexing. Tests show that the downstream rate is increased more than 10 times in the overlap areas.
How is the TD-LTE industry progressing and what do you see for its future?
According to our observation of the market, TD-LTE is still in its period of prosperity for its has some major emerging development drivers or we call it development opportunities. First of all, FDD players entering TDD camp will be a heated trend in the following years due to the attractiveness of TDD bands(e.g. much wider and cost-effective and flexible in downlink-to-uplink ratio). Till end of 2015, 95 of 355 FDD LTE operators also have TDD spectrums and the proportion is still increasing. And other two trends is 3.5G spectrum and WiMAX transformation, TD-LTE seems to be the best and inevitable choice. These two trend will expose their potential around these two or three years.
And last but not the least one is what we just mentioned — Pre5G. As the breakthrough in 4G and the bridge to 5G, Pre5G prolonged and motivated TD-LTE’s life cycle. Take Massvie MIMO for example, its outstanding performance has already aroused great interest and concern of operators worldwide, thus greatly increase communication and cooperation chances about TD-LTE. ZTE, of course, is one of the biggest beneficiaries.
As for ZTE, we witnessed a year-on-year wireless product sales growth of over 30% in 2015 and will maintain this steady development in the following few years.
What is ZTE’s role and strategy in Asia for TD-LTE?
ZTE is a leading product and solution contributor in promoting the technology innovation and commercial development of the TD-LTE industry in Asia. As the major partner of China Mobile, we helped China Mobile to plan and roll out the world’s largest TD-LTE network, building up more than 400,000 base stations specifically. And now we have cooperated to complete the commercial test of Pre5G Massive MIMO based on 4G network in different scenarios in 2015. We also established long-term strategic partnership with Softbank. Besides, we cooperate with many other major operators in Asia like Smartfren in Indonesia, China Mobile Hong Kong, SLT in Sri Lanka, Barti Airtel in India,etc.
Asia has always been the most active market for mobile data services, and thus the major market for TD-LTE and shows great interest in new technology and application like Pre5G and virtualization network. We have completed a lot of trials of new technologies like VoLTE , eMBMS, MM and so on in Asia.
What are the challenges still left to overcome for TD-LTE? What’s ZTE’s plan for this?
The answer will be “yes” and “no” depending on the spectrums we are talking about. As for Band 41 and band 40, the whole ecosystem is already absolutely mature, enabling us to provide a seamless and fast ever 4G network. But if we are taking higher spectrums, like band 42 and band 43 into account, we still have some issues to work with. The biggest issue for sure is the absence of device, and 3.5GHz devices, especially the handsets are still not massively available. Besides, it is still challenging to guarantee a seamless coverage as what we have in lower spectrums.
Regarding ZTE’s capability to support 3.5GHz, we already commercially launched macro base station products, and a lot more small cells and Pre5G products are also coming very soon.
But again, the key challenge to facilitate TD-LTE at 3.5GHz lies in the terminals, so what we shall do is to encourage more manufacturers to speed up their products on this spectrum.
For Broadband TV Connect Asia, what did we see at the ZTE booth?
For Pre5G part, we are presenting ZTE Paper, the Missive MIMO base station, which is the winner of Best Mobile Technology Breakthrough award and CTO’s Choice award at MWC Barcelona this year. Along with it, a video of ZTE Paper about its highlight, application scenarios and deployment cases will be played. What’s worth to mention, ZTE is at the first place to release Massive MIMO and first to commercially deploy it in the operator’s network. It is supposed to be deployed in a wider range worldwide.
For the next generation, there is 5G prototype. Which shows ZTE is keeping a very close pace of developing 5G products and solutions.
More of that, there displays RRUs, Q-power, Q-cell. Those products will be perfectly solve the indoor coverage issues.
Given our strong capability of network infrastructure, let’s not forget the service innovations enabled. As we have a larger broadband at mobile ends, high definition content are brought into our service portfolio, and broadband TV is absolutely one of them, because people are spending more time than ever on videos.