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Operators 5G Development Strategy in Mid-and-long Term

Transformation, Empowerment, Building the foundation

After the first year of commercial use in 2019, the pace of 5G development seems clearer and clearer. We have seen more than 70 5G commercial networks around the world, and we have also seen the commercial use of new 5G services such as VR and numerous practical exploration into vertical industry applications. 5G brings to operators new opportunities and challenges as well. How operators develop 5G in the future is a real problem and a long-term strategy. Operation, services and network have always been the key elements of operators' development strategies. We propose mid-and-long term strategies to help operators realize long-term development, which includes  transformation, empowerment and building foundation three aspects.


lValue-oriented Operation Transformation in 5G Era

In the 4G era, 2C growth is already weak. Traditional pipe operation and traffic operation make it difficult for operators to achieve significant growth in the 5G era. At the same time, there is a big difference between the service mode at 2B and 2C, and the original 2C business mode cannot be copied to the 2B mode. To make changes, we propose that operators shift to value-oriented operation and design the transformation path in terms of business models, business boundaries, and organizational capabilities.

In terms of business models, we will change the single traffic operation model in the 4G era and design a multi-dimensional measurement system for value operation. In the personal consumption field, a multi-dimensional tariff system is designed, which takes "data traffic + data rate + latency" as the basic feature package, "connection + cloud service" as the value-added feature package, and "video, game, music and so on" as the content service tariff package. In this way, users can be divided into different parts to achieve differentiation and the network values can be greatly improved. In the industry application field, the focus is to break through the original service boundary, and expand to both ends of the industry chain and business service. In addition, according to their own capabilities and the characteristics of industry customers, operators can act as connection providers, platform providers, service integrators, and service providers respectively. In addition, operators need to change their organizational structures and capability models, and build new capability system for vertical industry market development.

lBuilding the Core Capabilities to Empower Industries

Empowering the industry is an important opportunity and Inevitable development path for operators in the 5G era. The digital transformation of global industry has a huge business space. However, to effectively empower the digital transformation of the industry, operators need to build the 5G-enabled core capability system, which consists of core network capabilities (MEC, slicing, IOT, and cloud network integration) and core industrial capabilities (video, V2X, drone, and robot). These two capabilities can be aggregated to form some universal services. The universal services can be combined with specific industries and customers to build a comprehensive service system through capability operation. Among the core network capabilities, MEC and slicing are the two most important capability elements. The common analogy is that MEC means that the logistics industry builds warehouses in communities to achieve fast delivery goods. Slicing means that different customers or goods are transported by air transportation, high-speed railways, or lorries in accordance with their importance. The combination of MEC and slices builds a high-guarantee "delivery system" oriented to industrial applications.

Meanwhile, operators should choose some important vertical industries to maximize the business value. We evaluate and select industries by multi-dimension including the revenue scale of 5G enabled, Correlation degree with 5G and 5G service application maturity. Currently, we propose operators focus on the following industries such as manufacturing, energy, transportation, media entertainment and medical.

With years of experience in industry digital transformation, ZTE has cooperated with more than 200 industry customers worldwide in the 5G era, and has launched more than 60 practical cases.

lBuilding high cost-effective network infrastructure

Operation transformation and industry empowerment must depend on the network pipe. Therefore, building a cost-effective network infrastructure is a consistent demand and important development strategy for operators. The high cost-effective network infrastructure refers to high performance and low TCO.

In term of building high performance, we focus on the following strategies and solutions.

1) First on network architecture aspect, NSA is the cautious investment choice in 5G initial stage, but SA is the target architecture, so operators may face secondary investment or even repeated investment. ZTE has launched Common Core and NSA/SA dual-mode BTS, which can implement flexible selection and smooth evolution of network architecture and reduce investment.

2) M-MIMO is the key 5G technology and the most essential factor effecting 5G network performance as well. M-MIMO network performance is determined mainly by core chips, key components and key algorithms. As the first vendor applying M-MIMO in 4G commercial network, ZTE has years of practice experience to optimize MI-MIMO performance. At present, ZTE M-MIMO commercial network indicators are leading in the industry due to the powerful chips capability, key components and key algorithms.

3) 5G uplink shortage is a common concern in the industry. Different vendors have released different solutions. ZTE FAST (FDD Assisted Super TDD) can improve the uplink and downlink capacity at the same time without occupying separate FDD spectrum resource.

4) Currently, the DSS(dynamic spectrum sharing) solution is a hot spot in the industry, by which operators can fast deploy 5G through using the existing 4G spectrum. ZTE super DSS solutions is the industry's first solution for tri-mode dynamic spectrum sharing of 2G/4G/5G and 3G/4G/5G, which can better protect 2G and 3G service especially voice services.

In term of low TCO, we focus on the following strategies and solutions.

1) First, different service scenarios need the most suitable products to achieve capacity matching, coverage matching and realize site simplification, minimum power consumption. ZTE launched a full series of products to meet the differential requirements in all coverage scenarios including urban, suburban and hot-spot of indoor and outdoor, even high-speed railway, tunnel and airline coverage.

2) Currently 2G/3G/4G/5G coexistence results in wireless sites are becoming more and more complicated. How to simplify the site is a common effort of the industry. ZTE has launched UniSite simplest site solution, which implements low-cost site construction and O&M through dual-band/tri-band UBR, all-in-one cabinet, A+P combination module and so on. In addition, simplifying sites are also extended to the MEC edge cloud platform, with the development of industry applications, operators need the simplified MEC site solution to fast construct MECs at low costs.

3) Energy saving are the focus of the industry. ZTE 7nm chips and the new generation of PAs increases the gNB Energy Efficiency by over 50%, which will be further improved in the future. Meanwhile, AI-based intelligent energy saving has been put into commercial use in more than 20 networks around the world, and the average daily consumption reduction of the whole network is over 10%.

4) The complexity of multi-RAT network and diverse services coexistence causes great challenges to network O&M. Operators need to introduce intelligence into network planning, construction, maintenance, optimization and operation. ZTE AIVO (AI Insight and Value Operation) fully implements intelligent O&M.


The three development strategies of transformation, empowerment, and building the foundation are indispensable. ZTE is willing to provide the related strategies and solutions to help operators success for long term.

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