ZTE unveils 5G network slicing solution

ZTE has announced the launch of its cloud-based end-to-end 5G network slicing solution.

Chinese telecommunications technology provider ZTE has launched its 5G end-to-end cloud-based network slicing solution across 5G radio access network (RAN), core network, and bearer network.

Calling it a world first, ZTE said the solution is "the key to the 5G network supporting industry digital transformation" by enabling a physical network to be allocated across several virtualised network slices for different needs and services.

"The solution is based on an industry-leading micro-service architecture and realises the convergence of the unified air interface, the virtualised core network, and the SDN-based bearer network," ZTE explained.

The company added that the solution will also enable on-demand network customisation with real-time provisioning thanks to its intelligent operation and management system.

"The solution also incorporates a policy engine empowered by AI to continuously improve the intelligent operation and service assurance capabilities of the 5G network," the company added.

"The release will push forward the technical maturity of the 5G commercial system to a new level, lay a solid foundation for the new mode of 5G slice-based network operation, build up the capability of NSaaS (Network Slice as a Service), and continuously lead the 5G application innovation for the vertical industry."

The announcement follows ZTE last year saying it is committed to pioneering 5G, with plans to enable mobile carriers to transition to the faster network standard worldwide by leading the industry in technology and commercialisation.

In July, ZTE had announced it would double its R&D spend on 5G to reach 2 billion yuan (almost $300 million). It then reported spending 9.197 billion yuan ($1.38 billion) on R&D during the first nine months of 2017, accounting for around 12 percent of total revenue.

"In [the] next three years as a 5G pioneer, ZTE will unswervingly strengthen its R&D investment, and focus on carrier markets and core businesses," ZTE said in October.

"The company will keep tracking new technologies and exploring new modes to maintain and improve its leading status in the 5G era."

ZTE had completed 5G New Radio (NR) field trials with China Unicom, attaining data rates of up to 2Gbps for single-user equipment in July. The trial utilised ZTE's pre-commercial sub-6GHz 5G base station at the 3.5GHz frequency with 100MHz bandwidth alongside Massive MIMO technology.

The company additionally completed several major 5G scenario trials during phase two of China's national 5G tests in July, including network slicing, in an effort to test its chips and equipment ahead of commercialisation.

ZTE's enhanced mobile broadband (eMBB) across sub-6GHz test attained a peak cell throughput of more than 19Gbps with 28 spatial division streams using a 3.5GHz pre-commercial 5G base station, while its eMBB millimetre-wave (mmWave) test saw a four-stream rate of more than 13Gbps.

It is also working on 5G in Japan, in June announcing a partnership with SoftBank to trial 5G over sub-6GHz spectrum at 4.5GHz across Tokyo, and working with the Japanese carrier on Massive MIMO and 5G NR R&D.

ZTE had announced its plans to release 10Gbps-capable 5G mmWave and sub-6GHz base stations that are compliant with 3GPP and 5G NR standards and identified spectrum bands a year ago. It launched its modular 5G IT baseband unit with Intel, which is compatible over 2G, 3G, 4G, and pre-5G networks thanks to the use of SDN and NFV technologies, at the same time.

As of October, ZTE had deployed more than 60 pre-5G networks across the globe, as well as over 280 software-defined networking (SDN) and network function virtualisation (NFV) commercial and trial networks worldwide.

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