​ZTE unveils 'Gigabit' phone, partners with Intel for 5G IT baseband unit

ZTE has already made a slew of announcements at MWC, including its new '5uper Generation' smartphone boasting download speeds of up to 1Gbps.

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ZTE Gigabit Phone

Image: Supplied

Chinese smartphone manufacturer ZTE unveiled its new Gigabit Phone at Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona on Sunday, boasting download speeds of up to 1Gbps.

The ZTE Gigabit Phone is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 mobile platform with an integrated Snapdragon X16 LTE modem, and utilises a combination of carrier aggregation, 4x4 MIMO antenna technology, and 256-QAM modulation to achieve LTE download speeds that ZTE said are up to 10 times faster than first-generation LTE devices.

The smartphone also uses ZTE's independently developed Pre5G Giga+ MBB solution and smart devices, which ZTE said makes it three times as powerful at improving data processing capability over the current network.

ZTE touted the new device as improving users' lifestyles by allowing for 360 degree panoramic virtual reality video, instant cloud storage, entertainment upgrades, and fast cache of ultra Hi-Fi music and movies, as well as instant APP, which the company said removes the need for download or installation of applications.

The new smartphone announcement comes after ZTE terminated its Kickstarter campaign for the Hawkeye phone -- originally called Project CSX -- which was expected to comprise of features crowdsourced from the community.

The Hawkeye phone promised a self-adhering case and eye-tracking technology to enable hands-free experiences. While ZTE previously said it has not ruled out the Hawkeye completely, the crowdfunding campaign ended after it raised only $36,245 of its $500,000 funding goal.

Also at MWC, ZTE announced the launch a 5G IT baseband unit (BBU), based on Intel architecture.

By utilising advanced software defined networking/network function virtualisation (SDN/NFV) technology, the modular IT BBU is compatible with 2G/3G/4G/Pre5G and supports cloud-radio access networks (C-RAN), distributed-RAN (D-RAN), and 5G central and distributed units (CU/DU), ZTE said.

"Intel technologies power the cloud and billions of smart, connected computing devices, so we are very pleased to be partners in the field of 5G and our deep cooperation will support our two companies' long-term development," said Jianguo Zhang, senior vice president of ZTE.

"As a leading communication equipment and solutions provider, 5G is part of ZTE's core strategy and it is dedicated to the R&D of virtualisation technologies. The cooperation between ZTE and Intel will deliver a simpler, more flexible, and open network to telecom operators, and bring bigger value to users."

Also at MWC, ZTE revealed plans to release a full range of 5G mmWave and Sub6GHz pre-commercial base stations, which the company said provides support for 3rd Generation Partnership Projects (3GPP), 5G new radio (NR), new air interfaces, and mainstream 5G frequency bands in the industry.

The data throughput on the 5G Sub6GHz base stations can reach 10 Gbps, ZTE said, with China Mobile successfully completing a demonstration of the pre-commercial base station.

ZTE said it also completed 5G single-point technology and prototype verification and has now entered the 5G solution verification and product R&D phase.

"ZTE will continue its innovation in the 5G field to meet the product and service needs of customers. ZTE will occupy a place in the world's first 5G commercial market and lay a solid foundation for the future Internet of Things (IoT)," said Zhang.

The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and 3GPP updated their 5G characteristics and requirements standards at the weekend, with speeds, spectrum, and latency all due to be decided later this year.

Under the current International Mobile Telecommunications (IMT) 2020 technical performance requirements, 5G networks must be capable of downlink peak data rates of 20Gbps; uplink peak data rates of 10Gbps; downlink user-experienced data rates of 100Mbps; uplink user-experienced data rates of 50Mbps; 4ms latency for enhanced mobile broadband; and 1ms latency for ultra-reliable low-latency communications devices.

5G networks must also enable mobility maximum speeds of between 0km/h and 10km/h for pedestrians, 10km/h to 20km/h for vehicles, and 120km/h to 500km/h for high-speed vehicles; a connection density of 1 million devices per square kilometre; downlink peak spectrum efficiency of 30 bits/Hz; uplink peak spectrum efficiency of 15 bits/Hz; and area traffic capacity of 10Mbps per square metre.

Other parameters being decided include energy efficiency, reliability, control plane latency, and mobility interruption time.